Singer Will Reconsider Bid by Bilzerian Unit

Associated Press

Singer Co. said it tentatively agreed Tuesday to a once-hostile $1.06-billion takeover bid by a group headed by Florida financier Paul Bilzerian.

Singer's board will hold a special meeting today to consider ratifying the agreement with Singer Acquisition Co., a subsidiary of Bilzerian Partners Limited Partnership 1.

Bilzerian, who has offered $50 a share for the defense electronics company's outstanding common stock, has said he may only retain the former sewing machine maker's gas meter manufacturing and electric tool businesses.

Analysts said other divisions would have to be sold to pay off debt incurred in purchasing Singer's shares.

Bilzerian said in a telephone interview from his Tampa, Fla., office Tuesday evening that he saw no problems with the deal being completed.

"I think that we would probably sell the defense electronics businesses," he said. "The indications of interest that we've heard have been extraordinary."

Singer's stock rose 37.5 cents to close at $48.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Singer initially opposed the $1.06-billion offer, launched Nov. 2, and said it was talking with other companies in search of an alternative.

Wall Street Wary

The Montvale-based company, whose move to New Jersey from Connecticut last year was seen as a way to take advantage of the state's anti-takeover law, challenged Bilzerian's offer in court after the investor sued over the law.

But Singer put its court challenge on hold, saying it would agree to the offer if Bilzerian could come up with the financing.

Wall Street analysts doubted Bilzerian's ability to raise the financing, citing his history of putting companies into play and profiting when his holdings were bought.

But Bilzerian has said that he has completed financing for the agreement, assisted by a $150-million commitment from Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens Jr., a Singer shareholder.

Bilzerian also said he has commitments from a syndicate of banks to provide up to $540 million in financing and $355 million from the investment firm Shearson Lehman Bros.

Why Pickens Helped

One analyst Tuesday credited Pickens' investment with saving the day for Bilzerian.

"Without that, he wouldn't have made it," said Howard Nichol of Advest Inc. in Hartford, Conn.

In turn, Pickens was protecting his investment in Singer by making sure the deal would go through, Nichol said.

As of Friday, 10.34 million shares had been tendered, slightly less than half of Singer's outstanding stock.

The tentative agreement was reached Monday evening, said Singer spokesman Tom Elliott. Bilzerian had issued a statement late Monday that talks were continuing and that a midnight deadline was extended until today.

Singer noted that there was no assurance its board would approve the merger, or whether the merger would be completed if the board did approve.

But Nichol said: "It looks to me like the deal's going to go."

Bilzerian has made millions of dollars in a number of unsuccessful takeover attempts against companies including Cluett, Peaboy & Co., Hammermill Paper Co., Allied Stores Corp. and Pay 'N Pak Stores Inc.

The lack of other parties interested in completing a deal with Singer may have forced the company to accept Bilzerian's offer--and may have forced Bilzerian to go through with it, analysts said.

Without other offers, "He's left holding the bag," said Robert Maloney of Wood Gundy Corp. in New York.

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