MERGERS: A Whopper

One classic response by a company facing an unwelcome takeover bid is to try to sell itself to another firm. Anaconda Co. did just that—for understandable reasons—after New York's Crane Co. came calling last year. Anaconda is in the red, and Crane Chairman Thomas M. Evans is known for his ruthless sacking of money-losing managers. Last week Anaconda found a giant protector: it and Houston-based Tenneco Inc. announced plans for what would be one of the biggest mergers ever in terms of total revenues—if it can be brought off over Evans' opposition.

The merger would unite companies with annual sales...