Time Hearing Mob Descends On Wilmington With PM-Time, Bjt
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ They’ve seen their share of court battles over multibillion-dollar takeovers before, but the bailiffs at the Public Building had never seen a crowd as big as the one in town for a Time Inc. hearing.
″It’s unbelievable,″ one guard said, surveying the benches and aisles brimming with with reporters and stock arbitragers waiting for Chancery Court Judge William T. Allen to begin a hearing Tuesday over pivotal arguments in the three-way takeover battle over Time.
The event showed signs of becoming the latest historic proceeding at the Chancery Court, which dates back to colonial days and also is the court that hears cases involving guardianship of children, the elderly and mentally incompetent.
A suits-and-suspenders crowd of about 120 people jammed benches and chairs in a Superior Court room - the building’s biggest - borrowed to handle the mob, with another 75 lining the walls or sitting in the aisles.
The crowd was so big that that 35 people were shut out and stranded in the hallway. Those inside were warned they would lose their places to the outsiders if they left the courtroom.
That posed further complications for the arbitragers, who are stock speculators betting on the outcome of the takeover fight involving Time, which wants to acquire Warner Communications Inc. and is trying to fend off hostile bidder Paramount Communications Inc.
Allen wouldn’t allow the arbs, who are accustomed to calling their offices via their cellular phones while following court hearings, to bring the phones into the courtroom. Many of the speculators were afraid to leave the room for fear of losing their place to someone from the hallway.
The crush also was evident at Wilmington hotels. The night before the hearing, a room service waitress at the Radisson Hotel said at 11 p.m. that there had been 169 orders, an unusually busy night.
″And they’re still checking in,″ she said.
But the Time hearing wasn’t the only activity keeping the Public Building busy Tuesday.
″Be advised, there’s a sheriff’s sale on the first floor,″ said a voice crackling over a bailiff’s walkie-talkie.