The stock of Equitable General Corp. jumped $5 a share yesterday, reflecting two rival bids for control of the McLean insurance company.
Equitable General officials, however, continued to refuse to comment on the offer of $45 a share that was made for the company on Friday by Liberty National Life Insurance Co. of Birmingham, Ala. Equitable General had earlier announced plans to merge with Great Southern Corp. of Houston, Tex., after it offered $40 a share for all the company's stock.
In over-the-counter trading yesterday, Equitable General shares closed at $42.50 bid, $43.50 asked, on trading of 8,600 shares.
The stock was quoted at $37.50 bid, $39 asked on Friday before trading was suspended because of the Liberty National offer.
An Equitable General spokesman said the company did not plan to respond to the Liberty National offer at it's annual shareholders meeting, set for 2p.m. today at the Ramada Inn on Leesburg Pike in Falls Church.
Liberty National Chairman Frank P. Sanford Jr. said yesterday his company's bid resulted from merger talks that were initiated by Equitable General last year.
He said Equitable General officials told Liberty National they had decided to merge with Great Southern, but Liberty's board decided to make a better offer."
Releasing the text of Liberty's offer, Sanford said it included the option of cash or 8.5 percent installment notes for certain sellers affiliated with Equitable General. The installment notes, he added, would lower the capital gains taxes paid by the sellers.
Great Southern's $40 per share offer was for either cash or preferred stock, which would be tax free.
The tax implications of any acquisition are important to many Equitable General insiders, who own stock purchased many years ago for $1 a share or less.