CSX Corp. Saturday asked Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger to lift a federal appeals court injunction temporarily blocking the Richmond-based railroad conglomerate from buying shares in Texas Gas Resources Corp. as part of a proposed $1.07 billion takeover.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 2-to-1 decision late Friday, issued the temporary restraining order in response to a request by the U.S. Water Transport Association.
The appeals court also assigned an earlier date, in the first week in August, for a hearing on a WTA appeal of a ruling by the Interstate Commerce Commission and ordered attorneys for both sides to submit briefs in the case this week. The ICC ruling would allow CSX to buy Texas Gas shares on the condition that CSX place stock of a Texas Gas subsidiary, American Commercial Lines, in a separate voting trust.
The appeals court said its order did not address the merits of the case.
"The granting of this stay, while it maintains the status quo, is not a vindication of Water Transport Association's claims," the appeals court said. "We express no views on the ultimate disposition of the case."
Toni House, a Supreme Court spokeswoman, said Burger is not expected to act on the CSX application until today at the earliest.
CSX was scheduled to begin buying Texas Gas stock for $52 a share at midnight last Wednesday. But on a request from the WTA, U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch issued a temporary restraining order June 30 stopping the purchase.
Gasch's injunction had been set to expire at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, but it was superseded by the appeals court order.
CSX's tender offer expired at midnight Thursday and was extended until midnight Friday. According to Eugene Gulland, an attorney representing CSX, the company has until 9 a.m. today to decide whether to extend the offer again.
The WTA, a barge-trade group, objects to the takeover on the grounds that CSX's ownership of American Commercial, a Texas Gas barge line, would pose anticompetitive problems in the barge industry.
CSX is the nation's largest rail system, and one reason it is attempting to buy Texas Gas is to integrate its transportation system. Besides two railroads, CSX already owns a trucking company and an aircraft-maintenance and service firm.
Texas Gas, based in Owensboro, Ky., transports natural gas and operates trucking, boat-building and oil and natural gas exploration businesses, in addition to its barge line.
In a June 29 decision, the ICC rejected the WTA's request that it stop CSX's takeover of Texas Gas, noting that CSX previously had agreed to place American Commercial Lines in a nonvoting trust until the commission had held hearings on the merger's implications.
CSX spokesman Edwin E. Edel said Saturday that CSX asked the Supreme Court to lift the appeals court injunction and allow the Texas Gas acquisition to proceed because "all stock of the barge line would be placed in an independent voting trust and thus the barge line would remain independent and free of influence from CSX until the ICC could complete its hearing."
Edel said CSX had received tenders for almost 19 million of Texas Gas' 20.6 million outstanding shares as of 4 p.m Friday.