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BANKING & FINANCE | BRIEFLY / THE STATE

Ahmanson Says Court Allows Proxy Bid

March 01, 1997|Times Staff and Wire Reports

H.F. Ahmanson & Co., the nation's largest thrift, said Delaware Chancery Court is allowing the Irwindale-based company to solicit support from shareholders for its hostile $6-billion bid for rival Great Western Financial Corp. The court, by choosing to postpone judgment on the legality of an Ahmanson proposal, cleared the way for Ahmanson to put pressure on GW by appealing directly to shareholders. Great Western responded by saying Ahmanson "misrepresented" the hearing by calling it a "ruling." The differing interpretations of the hearing in Delaware is the latest in an increasingly bitter battle between Ahmanson and Chatsworth-based Great Western, which has yet to respond formally to Ahmanson's hostile bid, choosing instead to sue Ahmanson and seek rival bidders that could drive up the sale price. The court hearing followed a request by GW for a temporary restraining order against Ahmanson's solicitation. GW shareholders will be asked to vote on two proposals. One, a nonbinding resolution, will ask Great Western's board to accept the Ahmanson offer unless another bidder offers more. The other will put a cap of $100 million on "breakup fees" that GW could give to a bidder, which could discourage potential buyers. GW shares lost $1.375 to close at $44; Ahmanson shares lost 87.5 cents to close at $41.125. Both trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

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