Cooper reaches tentative deal before merger trial

Daily Journal

Cooper Tire’s troubled merger with Apollo Tyre took another turn on Wednesday, when Cooper said it had reached a tentative deal with the United Steelworkers union. Apollo, however, said it was nothing more than a stunt.

“Apollo objects to this last-minute hijack of this expedited litigation,” Christopher Lyons, an attorney for the company, said in a pretrial filing made jointly by the two companies, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek.

USW still must approve the deal, and Apollo also must review it.

In September, an arbitrator ruled Cooper couldn’t sell its plants in Findlay, Ohio, and Texarkana, Ark., until Apollo had reached a labor agreement with the unions, as called for in the merger agreement.

Cooper’s Tupelo plant is not represented by USW.

Apollo, in June, said it wanted to acquire Cooper in a deal valued at about $2.5 billion. But it’s been anything but smooth sailing.

While the boards of both companies have approved the deal, and Cooper’s shareholders last month gave their thumbs-up, the companies have been at odds since. Cooper sued Apollo in Delaware Chancery Court, asking it to press Apollo to move faster on the deal. Apollo countered, saying the USW ruling, plus labor troubles in China, should result in a reduced price in the merger.

The two are set to meet in Delaware Chancery Court on Tuesday to consider Cooper’s demand that the merger go through.