Abbott and Costello went to Wall Street yesterday and tried to tell the nation's financial news wires who's on first.
Pru's on first, the never-crack-a-smile Dow Jones News Service reported just before 8 a.m., when the deal makers were still rubbing the sleep seeds out of their eyes.
The wire service reported that Prudential Bache was teaming up with an investment banking firm called Vista Group Ltd. to make "a firm offer" of $16 a share to buy Superior Industries International Inc., an outfit that makes fancy wheels for cars.
Wall Street yawned, but soon the wheels began to fall off the deal and you could almost hear Bud and Lou warming up in the bull pen: "Who's on first, What's on second and I Don't Know is on third."
Pru's not on first, the giant insurance and investment company quickly proclaimed. We made no offer, it said; the story is "incorrect." The offer was "unauthorized."
Dow Jones put out a correction that touched all the bases, explaining where it got the story, down to the last telecopier. No, Dow is off base, the offer is on and so is Pru, Vista spokesman Barbara Blackmore told United Press International.
"Absolutely not true," replied Pru spokesman Peter Costiglio.
'Tis too, Pru, insisted Blackmore. "There is an offer. It really exists. We're trying to get it straightened out with the person at Prudential-Bache whom we're working with." And, she added, Vista is talking to members of Superior's management.
Pru, on second thought, said that while it hadn't made any offer today, it had written Superior a letter last month on behalf of Vista saying they were interested in a deal for the wheel maker.
That's true, Pru, responded Superior's president, who just happened to be named Lou -- Borick, that is.
But Vista is off base, Lou said. The claim that the two companies were discussing a leveraged buyout is "a pure out-and-out fabrication." And besides that we're not for sale.
At that point Pru walked. Countered Costiglio, "Our relationship with Vista has ceased to exist."
That's the ball game.