During his marriage to Marie Douglas-David, George David discussed with her the possible acquisition of 3M Corp. by United Technologies Corp., Douglas-David's lawyers said in court Wednesday, referring to a deal that had never been made public.
UTC did not buy 3M. It was not clear from court testimony whether the Hartford-based industrial conglomerate ever had serious talks with Minnesota-based 3M, the maker of many engineered products.
Douglas-David's lawyers pointed to that conversation as part of their argument that the 36-year-old Swedish countess and former Wall Street analyst helped UTC board Chairman David, 66, run the company through day-to-day conversations the couple had, and therefore is entitled to a larger share of his estimated $329 million.
The hearing, which ended its sixth day Wednesday, has been continued to July in Hartford Family Court.
But before the continuance was set, David spent the day on the stand, trying to minimize what, if anything, his wife contributed when it came to his business decisions and the resulting financial benefits.
In one example, Douglas-David's team suggested the former CEO of UTC discussed the possible acquisition of 3M Corp. by UTC with his wife.
David, when asked during a break in his divorce trial whether UTC is still discussing an acquisition of 3M, responded, "Of course not."
Douglas-David's lawyers also suggested that David talked with his wife about other large-scale merger talks, including UTC's purchase of Chubb plc and Kidde, and its attempt to buy Honeywell Corp.
In addition, her lawyer, William Beslow, suggested in questioning David that the UTC head had talked with Douglas-David about quarterly financial reports before they were made public.
"She participated with him in the affairs of UTC throughout the marriage," Beslow said.
David and his lawyers are contending Douglas-David is entitled solely to the provisions outlined in a 2006 post-nuptial agreement, now valued at about $38 million.
David repeatedly portrayed his conversations with his wife as routine chatter between a husband and wife, the details of which he said he could not remember. Beslow said in court that Douglas-David will testify that her husband conferred with her about whom to appoint to the UTC board of directors. David denied on the stand that he ever talked about a significant acquisition before it was "in the public domain."
"You told Mrs. David about a proposed UTC acquisition of 3M, isn't that right?" asked Beslow.
"No," David responded.
Douglas-David declined to elaborate on the 3M issue when asked by a reporter, saying only, "I'll be on the stand."
David said he did sometimes talk with his wife about quarterly earnings reports in a general way, such as whether the company's reports would show the company beating or falling short of Wall Street's expectations. The information in quarterly earnings reports is closely guarded before public release because it can have a major effect on a company's stock price. A purchase of 3M by UTC would significantly alter the course of business for the company, which is primarily in aerospace and building systems. UTC's acquisition of Chubb, a security business, and Kidde, which makes fire safety and related equipment, added to UTC's strength in large-scale building systems.
Tensions between Beslow and David's principal attorney, retired Appellate Court Judge Anne C. Dranginis, escalated considerably on Wednesday, as Beslow kept bringing up another relationship David began while still married, and harping on aspects of David's personal life.
"I think they need a break from each other," commented one observer in the courtroom as Beslow and Dranginis got into another heated discussion in front of Judge Stephen Frazzini, who is hearing the case. "They look like the ones who should be getting divorced."
Dranginis, clearly upset with Beslow's line of questioning, said she is prepared to do what she has to do when it is Douglas-David's turn on the stand. She declined to comment on whether the two sides might reach a settlement before the hearing resumes. David's other attorneys in the case are Hartford attorney Austin McGuigan and New York attorney Adria Hillman.
New York attorney Robert Cohen, one of three lawyers along with Hartford attorney Bruce Louden, who are representing Douglas-David, was visibly pleased with the way the trial is going, comparing it to David's favorite pastime.
"It's a bit like sailboats," said Cohen. "Sailing is very dependent on how the wind blows," he said, "and our wind is blowing just fine."
LAWYERS: COUPLE TALKED BUSINESS
Wife Claims A Role With David In UTC Divorce Trial
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