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Clark Equipment Stock Leaps on Takeover Rumors : Machinery: Speculation that Ingersoll-Rand may sweeten bid pushed shares $28.125 to $81.25.

March 30, 1995|From Reuters

CHICAGO — The stock of Clark Equipment Co. soared more than 50% Wednesday on speculation that Ingersoll-Rand Co. will sweeten its takeover price after Clark turned down a $1.3-billion offer.

Clark's stock leaped $28.125 to $81.25 in late afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange while Ingersoll-Rand was unchanged $32.125 also on the NYSE.

On Tuesday, Ingersoll-Rand, which makes air compressors, pumps and other industrial machinery, disclosed that it was bidding $75 to $77 a share, or about $1.3 billion for Clark, a maker of construction machinery.

Ingersoll-Rand said it first approached South Bend, Ind.-based Clark on March 15 but decided to make the offer public after the initial proposal was rejected by Clark's board of directors.

Clark said its board met Monday and rejected the offer as inadequate.

"The board reaffirmed its long-standing position that Clark is not for sale," the company said.

But Wall Streeters are now betting that a bidding war for Clark could push its stock to at least $90 a share if other large equipment makers decide to pounce on the company as a good route to diversification.

"I could see a potential of $90, from the standpoint that at $90 there still would not be any dilution from the deal to anybody," said Prudential Securities analyst Steve Colbert.

Analyst Harry Mortner at CJ Lawrence said the price of Clark's stock could even soar to $100, depending on numerous variables such as cost of capital and goodwill.

Ingersoll-Rand, based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., said it has already held talks with senior lenders and is confident that it could arrange financing for its all-cash offer.

In a letter to Clark Chairman Leo McKernan made available Tuesday, Ingersoll-Rand said it considered the lower end of its bid range to be the appropriate price.

Clark, a maker of forklifts, paving equipment and other machinery, agreed on March 6 to sell its 50% stake in VME Group of the Netherlands to Sweden's AB Volvo, its partner in the venture, for $573 million.

Clark also is seeking to raise funds for acquisitions of its own. It had planned to sell its 50% holding in VME in a stock offering but canceled those plans.

Meanwhile, several other names of potential bidders for Clark have surfaced, including Deere & Co., Case Corp. and Caterpillar Inc.

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