Quarterly Loss Widens : Troika Will Guide Wheeling-Pitt Steel

Times Staff Writer

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, struggling to reorganize under federal bankruptcy protection, said its fourth quarter loss widened to $214 million, and it named a committee of three to act as chairman.

The changes at the company's helm follow the abrupt exit of former chairman Allen E. Paulson, and vest power in two men associated with him.

The committee will be headed by Savannah, Ga., lawyer John P. Innes II, who is a former general counsel to Gulfstream Aerospace, which Paulson founded.

Also on the committee is Lloyd C. Lubensky, a Van Nuys, Calif., businessman and longtime friend. Paulson, who acquired 34% of Wheeling-Pitt several years ago for $50 million, sold it to Lubensky Dec. 31 for just $100,000 in order to get tax benefits from the loss. Both men have denied that the transaction was one of convenience. None of the principals could be reached Wednesday.

Shutdown Charges Cited

The third committee member is George A. Ferris, who has been acting chairman of the steelmaker since Paulson resigned the post in January.

The ailing steelmaker, the nation's eighth-largest, blamed its $214-million fourth quarter loss on plant shutdown charges. In the fourth quarter of 1985, the company reported a loss of $94.1 million.

Fourth quarter sales more than doubled, to $240.7 million from $96.3 million a year ago.

For the year, Wheeling-Pittsburgh's loss narrowed to $250.9 million from a loss of $303.1 million in 1985. Sales rose 37%, to $934.4 million. Steel shipments rose 48% to more than 2.2 million tons. The financial results exclude debt payments, which are suspended during the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Results in 1986 were helped by a six-month work stoppage at competing USX Corp. Results in 1985 were affected by a 98-day United Steelworkers strike at Wheeling-Pittsburgh.

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