Britain: Yardley in a Lather

In its deepening economic chill, Britain has been swept with merger fever. Over the past few months, major deals have been made in aircraft and steel. Others are afoot in chemicals, electronics, autos and oil. But when the giant London-based British-American Tobacco Co. Ltd., joined in with a bid for Yardley & Co. Ltd., one of Britain's biggest and best-known perfume and cosmetics makers, all it got was a lather of dissent.

Rich (assets: $1.5 billion), acquisition-minded BAT is no stranger at the dressing table, having acquired 65% control of another cosmetics company, Lenthéric Ltd., in 1965. Two weeks ago BAT...

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