Business Abroad: A Battle of Giants

From far off, British business may seem a genteel affair, but not when titans clash. Last week aggressive, research-minded Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. (annual sales: $1.6 billion) began the biggest takeover struggle in Britain's history. It broke off coolly polite merger talks with slow-footed Courtaulds, Ltd. (sales: $481 million), Britain's biggest maker of artificial fibers. Faced with stubborn resistance from Courtaulds' board, which is reluctant to be swallowed up, I.C.I, declared a proxy war, publicly offered to swap $560 million worth of its stock for all of Cour taulds' outstanding shares....

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