Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Elder-Beerman bid war continues

The Associated Press

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. increased its bid for Dayton's Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. Monday to $92.8 million, once again trumping a bid for the retailer from Wright Holdings Inc.

The York, Pa.-based Bon-Ton offered $8 a share for Elder-Beerman. That topped a bid of $7.80, or $90.5 million, from Wright Holdings Friday.

That bid had exceeded the $7.25 a share offered earlier by Bon-Ton.

Tim Grumbacher, chairman and CEO of Bon-Ton, said that under his company's offer, Elder-Beerman would become a subsidiary of Bon-Ton.

Elder-Beerman said Wright Holdings, a subsidiary of the Minneapolis-based Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, has one day to make a counteroffer.

Michael Sweeney, Goldner Hawn's managing director, has said his company remains committed to acquiring Elder-Beerman and keeping its management and operations intact. A message seeking comment was left Monday with Sweeney.

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.

Any merger must pass government scrutiny and be approved by shareholders controlling two-thirds of Elder-Beerman's 11.6 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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