With no compromise in sight yet, Cooper Tire & Rubber’s fight with India’s Apollo Tyres Ltd. over a $2.5 billion buyout is scheduled before a judge in a non-jury trial set to begin today in Delaware Chancery Court.
Talks to finalize the biggest purchase by an Indian company in North America went awry in October amid opposition from U.S. and Chinese employees. Apollo, based in Gurgaon, India, aimed to lower its $35-a-share offer by as much as $9, citing the labor problems. On Oct. 4, the day Apollo’s acquisition was originally scheduled to be signed, Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper took the company to court, alleging Apollo was intentionally delaying the process.
In pretrial filings, Apollo denies it is suffering from “buyer’s remorse,” acknowledging it still wants to purchase and Cooper is the one that broke the contract. Central to Apollo’s defense is the possibility of a “material adverse effect” or significant change in Cooper’s worth since the contract was signed — which could end the deal.
Judge Sam Glasscock III, who granted fast-track status to the case being heard in Wilmington, must decide on either granting Cooper’s request and forcing Apollo to agree to a new labor deal signed last week. The agreement kills Apollo’s objections to the transaction, Cooper said in court papers. Apollo called the labor deal “illusory” and accused Cooper of attempting to “hijack” the case.