Reynolds Metals Co., the stock of which usually is as exciting as a roll of aluminum foil, became last week's big market winner after a bidding war broke out for the big Richmond-based metal aluminum producer.
Alcoa Inc., the world's top aluminum supplier, offered $65 a share in cash and stock for Reynolds on Wednesday, but Friday another bid came in from Michigan Avenue Partners, a Chicago investment firm that has bought $1 billion in aluminum producing facilities in the past 18 months.
The latest bidder did not reveal the amount of its offer but said it was an all-cash "equivalent" to the Alcoa offer, which was half cash and half stock. Alcoa's offer was valued at $5.6 billion, including the assumption of Reynolds's debt.
Because of a worldwide oversupply of both the metal and the smelters needed to make it, aluminum prices have been falling, triggering a global round of consolidation.
Speculation that someone else might make a bid for Reynolds pushed up the stock Thursday. When the Michigan Avenue Partners bid was announced Friday, the shares jumped to $69.37 1/2, well beyond Alcoa's offering price and an increase of almost $13 over the previous week's close, as traders guessed that the bidding was not over.
The position of a smokestack industry atop the week's winners list was a sign that nothing was happening in the technology business that most often produces the region's hottest stocks.
Tech stocks recovered some of their recent losses but remained well short of their spring heights. America Online Inc., the benchmark for Northern Virginia's Internet sector, was up 14 percent for the week, a fraction of a point less than the No. 5 company on the winners list, Nextel Communications Inc.
The tenuous tech recovery brought a small weekly gain for The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index, which represents shares of more than 200 companies in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
At the opposite end of the performance scale, shares of Land America Financial, a Richmond real estate title insurance company, slipped about $4 after the announcement that two of its rivals plan to merge to create the largest firm in the industry.