Takeover rumors continued to swirl around CBS Inc. yesterday after arbitrageur Ivan F. Boesky, who owns at least 8.7 percent of the company, said he wanted to meet with CBS management, and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) said a group of his supporters is trying to raise $150,000 to contact CBS stockholders before the company's annual meeting on April 17.
Meanwhile, CBS added to the speculation when it confirmed yesterday that it has arranged a new $1.5 billion line of credit. CBS denied that it lined up the funds to to protect the company from a hostile takeover bid, but some Wall Street analysts think the company plans to use the funds to make an acquisition that will make CBS larger and therefore more difficult to acquire.
CBS refused Boesky's request for a meeting with management. One source said CBS refused to negotiate with Boesky last week when he offered to sell his stock back to the company at the market price.
"I am pleased to be a significant shareholder in CBS," Boesky said yesterday. "As I indicated in my schedule 13D, I believe that the current market price of CBS stock does not adequately reflect the value of CBS. I wish to be supportive of CBS management and to encourage CBS to take action which would result in the market price of its stock more adequately reflecting its value. In that connection, I have requested an opportunity to meet with CBS management."
CBS has been fighting for its independence since Jan. 10 when Fairness in Media, a conservative group supported by Helms, said it would encourage conservatives to purchase CBS stock. FIM said its strategy was to organize a large group of individual stockholders to influence network news coverage at CBS, which the group says has a "liberal bias."
Last week, FIM said it would not launch a proxy fight at the CBS annual meeting on April 17. However, while CBS claimed victory in its battle with FIM, FIM officials said they would carry on the fight to influence the network.
"When the necessary funds have been raised, Fairness in Media will contact the stockholders to determine who and how many agree that CBS reporting has been unfair to President Reagan," Helms said yesterday. "Fairness in Media intends to proceed rapidly and aggressively. Obviously our next goal is to invite CBS stockholders to decide for themselves whether CBS has a record of biased unfair and anti-Reagan reporting."
FIM is a group supported by Helms that has close ties to the National Congressional Club, the nation's second-largest political action committee, which supports conservative candidates and causes.
Wall Street analysts believe that what began in January as an attempt by Helms to influence network news coverage at CBS has made the network more vulnerable to a takeover by a third party. Analysts said FIM's bid for control has drawn attention to the company's stock market price, which is well below the value of its assets.
Speculation in CBS stock has increased since the announcement on March 18 by Capital Cities Communications Inc. that it has agreed to acquire American Broadcasting Companies Inc. for more than $3.5 billion.
Rumors in recent days have matched CBS with merger partners, including A. H. Belo, Storer Communications Inc., Walt Disney Productions and Time Inc.
CBS stock closed at $106.75 yesterday, down $1.25.