A court-appointed trustee today agreed Wednesday to an $81 million sale of Avis, Inc., Stock to Norton Simon, Inc., minutes after a federal court judge here gave him authority to close the deal.
The sale agreement came in the midst of a rapid series of developments here and in New York.
Almost as soon as the sale papers were signed, lawyers for Avis rushed to the U.S. 2d Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to seek a stay of the ruling by U.S District Judge M. Joseph Blumenfeld allowing the transaction. But the appeals panels refused to grant the emergency injunction.
Avis argued that its board should retain the right to approve the sale and the trustee Richard Joyce Smith should not have sole authority. Avis said a sale now would be premature because it was likely a higher bid would arise within 60 days.
Norton Simon had raised its offer for stock of Avis to $22 a share from $20.25 today in a effort to obtain immediate court approval for its bid. The conglmerate announced its higher offer at a hearing before District Court Judge M. Joseph Blumenfeld, who is overseeing the divestiture of Avis shares by International Telephone and Telegraph Corp.
Norton Simon said its offer was good only for one day. The bid covers 3.7 million Avis shares held by a court-appointed trustee for ITT as well as the remaining 53 per cent of Avis outstaning stock in public hands.
The new bid topped competing offers made by Fuqua Industries, Inc., and Sears Holding, Ltd., for all or part of the Avis shares.
The hearing had been called to consider a request by Smith to accept the earlier $20.25-a-share offer by Norton Simon.
Fuqua stated the bidding for the trustee's shares with a $15.50-a-share offer in May and later matched Norton Simon's $20.25-a-share offer. Fuqua and Norton Simon differed on what they would offer public share-holders of Avis stock.
Sears Holding of English - which is not related to Sears, Roebuck & Co. - offered $21 a share for between 20 to 25 per cent of the Avis stock.
Smith agreed not to accept any money from Norton Simon for the stock for 60 days in case appeals were filed.
Last Friday, the Avis board of directors rejected Norton Simon's offer to buy the stock for $20.25 a share, but Blumenfeld today approved Smith's request to allowed to dispose of the stock at his discretion.
In 1975, Blumenfeld appointed Smith trustee for International Telephone and Telegraph Corp.'s 3.7 million shares under a federal antitrust agreement allowing IT&-T to sell Avis so it could retain Hartford Fire Insurance Co.
Blumenfeld noted that the original appointment of a trustee for the IT&-T-owned Avis stock was designed to prevent "a bargain price or junk price on the market" for the stock of the then-troubled firm. He said that was accomplished and that the company was prospering.