Buddy, Can You Spare a Billion?

Investors fret about debt as bidding for RJR Nabisco heats up

A fresh burst of takeover cross fire rattled through corporate boardrooms last week as acquirers battled for control of companies that make everything from bath towels (West Point Pepperell) to cake mixes (Pillsbury). Costliest of all was the struggle for RJR Nabisco (1987 revenues: $16 billion), whose price tag set a record with each new offer. Top RJR Nabisco executives, backed by Wall Street's Shearson Lehman Hutton and Salomon Brothers, raised their bid from $17.6 billion to $21 billion, topping the rival offer of $20.6 billion from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the high-flying leveraged-buyout firm. Now the two sides may be getting...

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