A shareholder group led by New York industrialist and financier Robert I. Toussie told federal securities regulators yesterday that it will try to negotiate a friendly takeover of Heck's Inc., a discount department store chain that is based in Nitro, W. Va.
The Toussie group, which recently bought 8.5 percent of Heck's common stock, said it intends to request a meeting with Heck's management to discuss a friendly purchase of the firm "working together with the company's management," according to documents filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If the Toussie group is unable to reach a negotiated agreement with Heck's and its management, it still might attempt to gain control of the company. The Toussie group, however, said the decision to pursue a hostile takeover had not been made.
The group's strategies for a possible hostile takeover attempt could include a tender offer to buy Heck's stock directly from shareholders, large open-market stock purchases or a campaign to win representation and exert influence on Heck's 10-member board of directors, according to SEC documents.
Heck's operates 131 discount department stores bearing the firm's name in nine states, with large concentrations of stores in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and southwestern Virginia.
Heck's also owns the 35-store Maloney's chain, which it acquired in August 1985. Maloney's discount department stores accounted for $85 million in sales last year and are most heavily concentrated in Kentucky.
A Heck's spokesman in Nitro said his company would not comment on the possible takeover until members of its management return from three new-store openings and have a chance to study the Toussie group's statements to the SEC.
The spokesman said Heck's had received a courtesy call from the Toussie group before news of the possible takeover became public.