Pritzkers Get 6% of Gradco

Times Staff Writer

An investor group led by the wealthy Pritzker family of Chicago has acquired 6% of the stock of Gradco Systems Inc. of Irvine, and Gradco's chairman said Friday he "welcomes" the Pritzkers' sudden interest in the firm.

A form 13-D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington shows that the Pritzker group has acquired 370,500 of Gradco's 5.9 million outstanding shares in open market purchases at prices ranging from $7 to $9 a share--for a total cost of $3.1 million.

The group said that its purchases were made "for investment purposes" and that it might buy more Gradco shares in the future. Gradco closed at $9 a share Friday in over-the-counter trading.

The Pritzkers extensive business holdings include the Hyatt hotel chain and Braniff Airlines. In February, the Pritzkers bought a 40% stake in Diagnostic Ventures Inc., a Newport Beach medical equipment leasing service.

Donna M. Hostetler, an analyst for Crowell, Weedon & Co. in Los Angeles, said she believes that the Pritzkers have no intention to try a hostile takeover or to interfere in the management of Gradco.

"I gather it's a very friendly transaction," Hostetler said. "My feeling is that if Gradco hadn't liked it, the Pritzkers wouldn't have done it."

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