Toronto became the center ring of the three-ring Woolworth-Brascan-Edper take-over circus today as the battle shifted back from New York.
Brascan Ltd., smarting from a rebuff before a federal court Thursday, took the offensive by filing complaints with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and Canada's federal Consumer and Corporate Affairs department.
Lawyers for Brascan called for an investigation by Canadian authorities of Edper Equities Ltd.'s buying of 6.7 million Brascan shares earlier this week.
Trading in Brascan remained halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange at the request of the OSC. Exchange officials said an announcement on whether the stock will trade next week is expected before the opening on Monday. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered a 10-day suspension of Brascan trading to expire May 12, because of "uncertainty in the financial community with respect to the status of recent transactions in the securities of Brascan."
The Toronto halt was continued because the OSC is "engaged today in dicussions with SEC as to cooperating with the SEC in their investigation of Edper-Brascan transactions," the Exchange said.
OSC investigators took records from the offices of Gordon Securities Ltd., a Toronto brokerage firm that specializes in block transactions. Gordon is understood to have acted for Edper in the past.
A U.S. court lifted a temporary restraining order on Thursday that prevented Edper from taking up the $175 million of Brascan shares purchased on the American Stock Exchange.
The OSC move further complicates the already tangled three-way takeover fight involving Edper, Brascan and F. W. Woolworth co., the New York-based five-and-dime chain.
Woolworth and Edper are opposing Brascan's proposed $1.125 billion bid for Woolworth. A hearing is to being May 10 in New York before the state attorney general to consider if it should be permitted to proceed.
Edper is still temporarily restrained by the New York court from buying more Brascan shares or interfering with Brascan management.
It is also prevented from soliciting support in its effort to change Brascan's mind and from voting the shares it acquired. Lawyers for both sides were to submit written briefs today and a decision on whether the restraints will contiune is expected next week.