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Prime Computer Discloses Secret White Knight

June 23, 1989|DAVID OLMOS | Times Staff Writer

After months of searching, Prime Computer disclosed Thursday that it may finally have found a white knight buyer to rescue it from a hostile takeover bid by MAI Basic Four of Tustin.

The Natick, Mass., minicomputer maker said its board is reviewing an acquisition offer it received from a bidder that asked not to be identified. In a prepared statement, Prime said the terms of the offer prohibit the company at this point from disclosing the amount of the bid or the identity of the bidder.

MAI, meanwhile, said it intends to raise its pending $1.1-billion offer for Prime, but the company would not say by how much.

Analysts said the emergence of a rival bidder and MAI's willingness to boost its offer indicates that the seven-month takeover struggle is nearing a finale.

"We're getting close to the end of this one," said Robert M. Johnson, a technology analyst with the brokerage firm Rotan Mosle Inc. in Houston.

The disclosure of a second bidder was not entirely unexpected. Prime recently said it was talking to several prospective buyers. It identified them only as two Fortune 500-size corporations and two firms specializing in debt-financed acquisitions known as leveraged buyouts.

A Prime spokesman said he did not know when the company would disclose the identity of the bidder or details of the offer.

Trading in Prime's stock was halted Thursday to give investors time to digest the new information. The company's stock closed unchanged at $15.875 per share in New York Stock Exchange trading.

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