303 F.Supp. 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1969), 69 Civ. 2227, Chris-Craft Industries, Inc. v. Piper Aircraft Corp.

Docket Nº:69 Civ. 2227.
Citation:303 F.Supp. 191
Party Name:CHRIS-CRAFT INDUSTRIES, INC., Plaintiff, v. PIPER AIRCRAFT CORPORATION et al., Defendants.
Case Date:August 19, 1969
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Southern District of New York
 
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Page 191

303 F.Supp. 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1969)

CHRIS-CRAFT INDUSTRIES, INC., Plaintiff,

v.

PIPER AIRCRAFT CORPORATION et al., Defendants.

No. 69 Civ. 2227.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

Aug. 19, 1969

Page 192

Paul, Weiss, Goldberg, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York City, Arthur L. Liman, Sidney S. Rosdeitcher, Joseph J. Ackell, Alan L. Schlosser, New York City, of counsel, for plaintiff.

Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside & Wolff, New York City, Donald L. Deming, Richard B. Leather, Zachary Shimer, New York City, of counsel, for defendant Piper Aircraft Corp. and individually named members of Piper family.

Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitchcock & Brookfield, New York City, James V. Ryan, New York City, William L. D. Barrett, Nancy Pasley, of counsel, for Bangor-Punta Corp.

OPINION

TENNEY, District Judge.

The instant suit arises out of the protracted and ofter bitter contest between plaintiff Chris-Craft Industries, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as 'Chris-Craft') and defendant Bangor Punta Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'Bangor Punta') to gain control of defendant Piper Aircraft Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'Piper'). Alleging various violations by defendants of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Rules promulgated with respect to each such Act, Chris-Craft seeks an injunction pendente lite restraining Bangor Punta from: (1) accepting 107,574 shares of Piper common stock

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tendered by the public shareholders of Piper to Bangor Punta pursuant to the terms of Bangor Punta's General Exchange Offer of July 18, 1969. Chris-Craft urges that these shareholders be given the opportunity to rescind their tenders after a 'full and fair disclosure' has been made of the terms of Bangor Punta's exchange offer; (2) acquiring additional shares of Piper; (3) effecting a merger of consolidation of Bangor Punta and Piper; and (4) voting 120,200 shares of Piper purchased in May 1969 by Bangor Punta in five large cash transactions, effected neither on a securities exchange nor from or through a broker or dealer.

Piper is a publicly-held Pennsylvania corporation whose capital stock consists of 5,000,000 authorized shares of $1.00 par value common stock, of which approximately 1,641,890 shares are issued and outstanding. The Piper family, three of whom are members of Piper's Board of Directors and defendants herein, own approximately 501,090 of the 1,641,890 outstanding shares. Piper's stock has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (hereinafter referred to as 'the Exchange') since 1957.

Chris-Craft is a diversified manufacturer whose common and preferred stock and convertible debentures are traded on the Exchange. Bangor Punta is a publicly-held diversified corporation whose stock and bonds are also listed on the Exchange.

In January 1969 Chris-Craft, in an effort to gain control of Piper, began acquiring shares of Piper on the open market. On January 23, 1969, Chris-Craft publicly announced its interest in Piper and made a public tender offer for up to 300,000 shares of Piper stock at $65.00 per share with the 'right to purchase excess shares.'

Piper's Board of Directors, by letter dated January 27, 1969, advised Piper stockholders that in their opinion Chris-Craft's offer was inadequate and not in the best interests of Piper shareholders. Unsatisfied with the history of Chris-Craft's management, Piper's management and Board of Directors decided that the best interests of Piper and its shareholders required them to resist this attempted takeover.

On January 30, 1969, the Board of Directors of Piper and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'Grumman') approved an agreement whereby Piper would sell 300,000 of its authorized but unissued shares to Grumman for $65.00 per share, in contemplation of thereafter exploring the possibility of a merger with Grumman. This agreement, although never realized, adversely affected Chris-Craft's cash tender offer, which expired on February 3, 1969.

On February 27, 1969, Chris-Craft filed a proposed registration statement and prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission (hereinafter referred to as 'the SEC') in which it proposed to offer to exchange certain Chirs-Craft securities for up to 300,000 shares of Piper.

Pursuant to its continuing efforts, on March 24, 1969 Piper issued 320,000 shares of its authorized but unissued common stock in exchange for all the outstanding stock of the United States Concrete Pipe Company of Florida, a subsidiary of a publicly-held investment company listed on the Exchange. At the same time, Piper exchanged 149,199 shares of its authorized but unissued common stock for approximately 99 1/2 percent of the outstanding shares of Southply, Inc., a closely-held Louisiana corporation. The Board of Governors of the Exchange, with whom listing applications covering the issued shares were filed, felt that the distribution of almost 30 percent of Piper's authorized stock violated the Exchange's listing criteria. Accordingly, trading in Piper stock was suspended and delisting proceedings authorized. When Piper's management agreed to rescind these transactions, trading in Piper stock was resumed.

While Piper's prolonged efforts to fend off Chris-Craft raise serious questions as to the propriety of such conduct,

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this action has little relevance to the instant proceedings. For the issues raised herein relate solely to Bangor Punta's exchange offer of July 18, 1969 and its purchases, for cash, of Piper stock in May 1969.

In early January 1969, defendant First Boston Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'First Boston'), an investment banking firm which serves as financial adviser to Piper, inquired whether Bangor Punta was interested in a possible acquisition of Piper. Although Bangor Punta responded affirmatively, nothing developed at that time. At a meeting convened on February 24, 1969, Bangor Punta explained that it would not consider attempting such an acquisition unless the Piper family sold their 501,090 shares to Bangor Punta. This condition was finally accepted by the Piper family on April 22, 1969.

On May 7, 1969, Chris-Craft publicly announced the terms of its then pending registration statement which proposed an exchange offer of Chris-Craft stock for 300,000 to 400,000 shares of Piper. The following day, after protracted discussions with Piper's representatives, a final agreement was entered into pursuant to which the Piper family agreed to exchange their shares for specified Bangor Punta securities. Additionally, the agreement provided that Bangor Punta would use its best efforts to acquire more than 50 percent of the outstanding shares of Piper stock. As part of those best efforts, Bangor Punta agreed to make an exchange offer to all other holders of Piper stock 'under which such holders will be entitled to exchange each share of Piper common stock held by them for Bangor Punta securities and/or cash having a value, in the written opinion of The First Boston Corporation, of $80 or more.' The agreement further provided that if Bangor Punta succeeded in acquiring more than 50 percent of the outstanding Piper shares, and if, in the written opinion of First Boston, the value of the shares offered to the members of the Piper family was less than $80.00 on the opening day of the exchange offer, Bangor Punta would deliver to the members of the Piper family securities and/or cash with a value...

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