CORPORATIONS: War for 80,000 Acres

Irvine Co. owns an 80,000-acre ranch that makes up one-fifth of Orange County, Calif. There the company has been building houses and factories grouped into developments that are remarkably successful examples of comprehensive urban planning. It must be put up for sale, however, because the James Irvine Foundation owns the controlling interest. Under federal tax law, the foundation cannot control an enterprise that aims at making a profit—and Irvine Co. not only tries to turn a profit but clears a rather tidy one. Mobil Oil Corp. offered $200 million in May, setting off a frantic bidding war. Since then, counteroffers...

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