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BANGOR PUNTA CORP. v. CHRIS-CRAFT INDUS.

December 10, 1971

BANGOR PUNTA CORPORATION, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHRIS-CRAFT INDUSTRIES, INC., et al., Defendants


Pollack, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: POLLACK

POLLACK, District Judge.

This cross action by Bangor Punta, a defendant in Chris-Craft v. Bangor Punta et al., 337 F. Supp. 1128 (S.D.N.Y. 69 Civ. 2227) decided this day, arises out of the bitter struggle between the two companies for control of Piper Aircraft Corporation. That struggle ended in the marketplace with Bangor Punta in control and continues in the complaints and cross complaints by the parties against each other arising out of their competition. *fn1"

 The principal facts are set out in this Court's opinion in 337 F. Supp. 1128, S.D.N.Y. 69 Civ. 2227. They will be deemed incorporated and need not be repeated at length here.

 Chris-Craft sued for damages as the losing contender for control of Piper by reason of Bangor Punta's alleged wrongful acts. Bangor Punta countered by charging, in essence, that because of the wrongful acts of Chris-Craft it paid more than it would otherwise have paid to acquire control of Piper. Both suits were tried together.

 Bangor Punta adduced no proof specifically in its case as plaintiff. It seeks support for its contentions in the record developed in Chris-Craft v. Bangor Punta et al., 337 F. Supp. 1128 (S.D.N.Y. 69 Civ. 2227).

 This complaint, like that in the companion case, is replete with charges of breach of the requirements of securities laws and rules. Like the other, it has been brought and tried as though any such breach by a competitor automatically creates windfalls for a sophisticated and well-financed contender for corporate control. It must be remembered that this is an action by the willing and winning contender which bought Piper stock with its eyes open, presumably paying what it deemed control of Piper to be worth. The Court has here been especially challenged to maintain its footing in the realities and the equities in searching (in vain) for credible evidence establishing causal connections between alleged violations and actionable damage.

 The Contentions

 (a) Bangor Punta insists that the plan of Chris-Craft to acquire control of Piper existed before the time when, according to Chris-Craft, the plan was formulated and that Chris-Craft concealed its true purpose from a registration statement filed with SEC to raise capital for the purchase and from prospectuses legally required to be used during a period when its unrevealed plan to obtain control of Piper was in existence.

 We comment here on this contention because it is typical of others in the case. Even if it rested on more than mere surmise, it raises no issue proper to a plaintiff in Bangor Punta's posture. Bangor Punta was not a purchaser of securities issued under the statement of which it complains. There are possible links of relevance between the alleged deficiency in the registration statement and Bangor Punta's campaign. But they are not links to liability of Chris-Craft to Bangor Punta. Thus:

 (1) If the registration statement were materially misleading there might be room to argue that Chris-Craft obtained by illegal means the money used to compete with Bangor Punta. There might then be examined the rights of those from whom the money was so obtained. But the Court sees no basis for awarding damages to Bangor Punta because Chris-Craft failed to disclose to its sources of funds its intended use of those funds.

 (2) If Chris-Craft did intend to use the proceeds of this registered issue to obtain control of Piper, a disclosure of that fact would have given Piper (and/or Bangor Punta) an earlier opportunity than they had in fact to prepare a counter-campaign. However, Chris-Craft owed no duty to Piper or Bangor Punta to announce its intentions for their benefit. Its disclosure obligations (assuming they existed as alleged) in the prospectus complained of or in 13-D reports, were for the benefit of investors with whom Chris-Craft would be dealing in its campaign for control.1A Bangor Punta does complain of failure to make -- and of inadequate -- 13-D statements. Thus:

 (i) It asks us to find that Chris-Craft and the broker it used to buy Piper stock constituted a "group" or "syndicate" whose intentions should have been reported.

 (ii) It contends that 13-D statements made by Chris-Craft should have disclosed that (as alleged by Bangor Punta) cash used in Chris-Craft's tender offer was borrowed and that such use of the cash would constitute a default under certain of Chris-Craft's arrangements with its creditors.

 The first of these contentions is not only far-fetched, but is wholly out of Bangor Punta's reach as a weapon against Chris-Craft. The latter contention would be a dubious one even if made by a Piper stockholder to whom the statement is specifically addressed. For that stockholder either tenders and walks off with cash or remains a Piper holder having no concern with ...


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