A surprise legal move tonight has revived the possibility of a takeover of F. W. Woolworth Co.
The bid by Brascan Ltd. of Toronto for Woolworth apparently had been scuttled when Edper Equities Ltd. purchased $175 million of Brascan's stock Monday and today, increasing its holdings in the company from 5 percent to 31 percent.
But Brascan, charging violations of U.S. securities laws, obtained a temporary restraining order against completion of trades in its stock involving Edper.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which granted to TRO.
Brascan has charged that Edper violated antifraud provisions of U.S. securities laws in purchasing $90 million worth of Brascan stock today and $85 million worth Monday on the American Stock Exchange.
This latest development came after many observers felt Brascan no longer had a chance of taking over Woolworth.
Edper Equities is two-thirds owned by members of the Bronfman family which controls the Seagram whiswey empire and one-third by a Dutch mining company.
Edper is opposing the Brascan plan to bid $1.125 billion for the huge five-and-dime chain.
Edper Chairman Peter Bronfman said the company has the support of holders of an additional 15 percent of Brascan who also oppose the bid for Woolworth.
Volume in Brascan was immense today, totaling 5.4 million share in Toronto, New York and Montreal. Monday's combined volume in the stock was 3.95 million shares, Amex's volume today was the largest ever in one day for a single stock. On Monday, a 2.4 million-share block of Brascan changed hands, the largest block ever on the amex.
Trevor Eyton, an Edper director, says Edper feels "it can now speak for 45 percent of the voting Brascan shares." He hopes this position will cause Brascan to abandon the bid for Woolworth.
E. C. Freeman-Attwood, Brascan president, sair Edper has "certainly made it abundantly clear they want Brascan to lay off the Woolworth bid."
Edper is proceeding to requisition a special Brascan shareholders meeting and will be "soliciting proxies for additional shareholder support," Eyton told the Post.
Woolworth management has rejected the Brascan offer of $35 a share as "too low."
Edper announced it was considering a bid for control of Brascan the same day that Brascan said it would bid for Woolworth. But Edper wanted its bid to be conditional upon the Woolworth bid being abandoned. It also wanted to keep its bid open for 120 days.
The Ontario Securities Commission refused to permit a conditional bid to proceed. At that time, Eyton said Edper would pursue other avenues to scrap the bid for Woolworth.