A battle for control of Abitibi-Price Inc. heated up today as one of the bidders scooped up $67 million worth of the company's stock.
Abitibi is described as the world's largest producer of newsprint. The Toronto-based company has assets and annual sales exceeding $1 billion. The buyer, Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd. of Montreal, paid $28 a share to boost its holdings in Abitibi to about 21 percent.
A rival bid of $28 a share by Olympia and York Investments Ltd. of Toronto for about 36 percent of Abitibi shares will be made Feb. 24 through the Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver stock exchanges.
Both Federal and Olympia and York held more than 9 percent of the stock prior to today's activity. Abitibi directors advised shareholders today to reject the Olympia and York offer because it is too low relative to other bids for control.
The takeover activity began late in January when Federal bid $27.50 a share for about 10 percent of the stock. The Olympia and York bid announced earlier this month caused Federal to drop its original offer.
The Ontario Securities Commission, the leading stock regulatory body in Canada, will hold a hearing tomorrow to consider the developments.
One player in the game has remained silent, West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. of Vancouver, which holds about 13 percent of Abitibi.
All of the companies involved and the three stock exchanges will be represented at the commission hearing.