Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. were barred by a federal judge in Washington yesterday from seeing key documents in the government's antitrust challenge to the companies' proposed $11.18 billion combination.
The surprising ruling threatens the transaction, analysts said, and increases prospects that the companies will seek a settlement.
However, some said the divestitures the Justice Department is demanding could prompt the defense contracting giants to abandon their proposed union altogether.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan allowed the government to withhold more than 2,000 confidential Pentagon documents.
The companies argued that the material could help them win the case by showing that many in the Defense Department believe the union of the defense contracting giants would not harm competition.
"We're disappointed. We're also surprised," said Charles Manor, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. "It will make our job difficult going forward. We are still committed to the merger. We have a high degree of confidence our case will prevail."
Pub Date: 6/04/98