LTV unit's sale to French risky, agency warns Martin Marietta group says it won't cut offer


WASHINGTON -- A Martin Marietta-Lockheed Group won't cut its $385 million offer for units of the LTV Corp. if Congress bars their sale to a team led by a French company for $450 million, Martin Marietta's chairman and CEO, Norman Augustine, said yesterday.

Rumors have arisen that Martin Marietta-Lockheed would slash its price to $250 million if Congress blocked the sale of the defense company units to Thomson-CSF Inc., the head of the Bethesda-based company told the House Armed Services Committee.

Thomson CSF is a U.S. subsidiary of Thomson SFA, a company owned primarily by the French government.

The Martin Marietta-Lockheed group was sincere in offering $385 million, Mr. Augustine said. "We continue to believe that would be a very fair price," he said. "We would be very happy to close on that contract with very few changes."

Leaders of Thomson and the Carlyle Group, partners in the winning bid for LTV's missile and aircraft units, assured the committee that the French company wouldn't install officers in LTV if Congress let the sale go through.

James Bell, Thomson-CSF's chairman and president, has said the French government would accept the word of the mostly American board of directors of the two units if they said they needed new investments or programs.

Such promises aren't believable, Mr. Augustine said. It is inconceivable that employees of the French company and the missile contractor wouldn't have close links, he said.

"Technology is not transferred by boards of directors," he said. "Technology is transferred by engineers talking to engineers."

It is unlikely that the French company could provide a large infusion of technology to the U.S. defense units, as promised, without some technology flowing in the other direction, Mr. Augustine said.

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