Saturday, September 6, 2003

Store chain accepts offer

Elder-Beerman OKs $82M bid

The Associated Press

Board members of Dayton, Ohio-based Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. said the retailer will accept an $82 million offer from Bon-Ton Stores Inc. unless rival suitor Wright Holdings Inc. raises its offer by early next week.

The Elder-Beerman board met Thursday after receiving the offer to merge with the York, Pa.-based Bon-Ton for $7 a share.

Elder-Beerman and Bon-Ton entered merger talks in late July, about a month after the Elder-Beerman board agreed to sell the company to Wright Holdings, a subsidiary of Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison of Minneapolis, for $6 a share.

Wright Holdings has three business days to raise its bid.

Goldner Hawn's managing director, Michael Sweeney, has said his company remains committed to acquiring Elder-Beerman and keeping its management and operations intact.

Any merger must pass government scrutiny and be approved by shareholders controlling two-thirds of Elder-Beerman's 11.75 million common shares.

Elder-Beerman employs about 6,100 workers and operates 68 stores in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The company had sales last year of $671 million.

Bon-Ton sells clothing, accessories and home furnishings in 72 department stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia. It employs about 8,700 workers.

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