THE ITT WARS: A CEO Speaks Out on Takeovers by Rand V. Araskog

THE ITT WARS: A CEO Speaks Out on Takeovers

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A big-time businessman's view of the 1980's, which is at least as interesting for top-down insights on the workings of a multinational conglomerate as for its predictable and largely overstated case against corporate raiders. A Minnesota farm boy who graduated from West Point, Araskog was named CEO of ITT at the start of 1980. High interest rates cost the behemoth created by Harold Geneen dearly, however, and the author (then 48) was soon forced to take decisive action. As he was cutting the giant down to size and strengthening its balance sheet, the company's depressed stock attracted the unwelcome attention of Jay Pritzker, Irwin Jacobs, and other players in the high-stakes takeover game. Araskog mounted a stubborn defense, and he was eventually able to repel all would-be boarders. In the meantime, the author personally undertook a project (code-named Roxane) that resulted in ITT's selling off nearly two-thirds of its global telecommunications holdings and joining forces with France's state-owned CGE (Compagnia GÇnÇrale d'ElectricitÇ). Closed just in time to beat a deadline imposed by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the intricate deal proved a genuine coup. Among other advantages, it put cash in the till and secured the company's position in world telephony markets outside North America. Araskog offers a fascinating account of the CGE affiliation, whose long-range promise he contrasts with the short-term perspectives of those more interested in an enterprise's breakup values than its worth as a going concern. In his heartfelt indictment of asset stripping, hostile tenders, junk bonds, leveraged buyouts, permissive enforcement of antitrust law, "ruthless financiers" and allied aspects of the merger mania still convulsing corporate America, the author raises a number of valid issues. He's unwilling, though, to concede that the possibility of acquisition bids has any beneficial effects for industry, investors, or professional managers, let alone society. The bottom line: a frequently shrill parroting of the Business Roundtable's party line on takeovers, redeemed in large measure by more thoughtful perspectives on board-room and executive-suite maneuverings.

ISBN: 8050-0825-X
Publisher: Henry Holt
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NonfictionNETFLIXED by Gina Keating
by Gina Keating