HOW THE 12 TOP RAIDERS RATE Soaring stocks and a public backlash have revolutionized takeovers. Old players are fading, new ones rising. Here's a surprising scorecard from Wall Street.
By Thomas Moore REPORTER ASSOCIATE Wilton Woods

(FORTUNE Magazine) – THERE SEEMS TO BE no stopping them. The financial sharks whose attacks have provoked a major restructuring of U.S. industry are ripping into more drifting corporations than ever, sometimes striking two or three at a time. The big fish have attracted a new wave of hungry rivals, and the schools of publicly traded companies they feed on are swimming increasingly scared. But the days of the quick and easy chomp are over. In the past year the takeover hunt has changed significantly, worsening the risk-reward ratio for those who prey. The soaring stock market has made so-called undervalued companies much more expensive. Changes in the tax laws have soured the economics of liquidating and spinning off assets after a takeover, limiting the payoff. A recent change in the Hart-Scott-Rodino law, requiring raiders to disclose relatively small holdings in companies, diminishes the element of surprise. And a Supreme Court decision last spring sanctioned a spreading rash of state laws aimed at protecting local companies from hostile takeovers. It gets worse. The Ivan Boesky scandal and other insider trading revelations have tipped the Great Takeover Debate against the raiders. Even more damaging, speculation that investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert would be caught in the scandal impaired its junk bond financing capability -- perhaps the biggest gun in the raiders' arsenal. Says Joseph Perella, co-head of mergers and acquisitions at First Boston: ''All raiders, particularly those who don't have a lot of cash or equity, are less formidable today because Drexel is not promoting as many of their activities with letters claiming it is 'highly confident of obtaining financing.' That seriously limits their ability to do deals.'' The takeover backlash and longer odds have knocked a few sharks out of the water. Victor Posner, 68, a pioneer corporate plunderer, was beached by the ^ bankruptcy filing of Sharon Steel, his biggest conquest, and lawsuits alleging he milked companies he acquired. Some dispirited raiders are cashing in or looking overseas. The Bass brothers of Texas, after making over $850 million on their investment in Walt Disney Co., have split up their loot and gone separate ways. Maverick Asher Edelman, 47, is casting his nets in Europe and Brazil, where he says the economics are better and shareholders are treated more fairly. A few raiders, after years of assailing the corporate establishment, are joining the club and trying to run big companies. Saul Steinberg, for instance, has settled down in middle age -- he's 48 -- to tending his huge Reliance Group insurance empire and throwing dinner benefits for such classy causes as New York's Metropolitan Opera. Says a takeover lawyer: ''The new religion is that you can make more money owning and operating companies than trading their stock.'' Maybe, but most raiders have not yet been converted. Many are as active as ever, and several lesser-knowns are nosing into the game. Canadian Robert Campeau, 63, landed a whale of a company in Allied Stores last year and is looking for other U.S. companies. Sam Heyman, 48, took over GAF, almost nabbed Union Carbide, and seems eager to bite into something new. Dallas investor Harold Simmons, 55, picked up NL Industries last year and this year bought a chunk of McDermott International, a big engineering and oil services company. Florida-based Paul Bilzerian, 37, has been in and out of Hammermill Paper, Allied Stores, and Pay 'N Pak. He is known on Wall Street as a reckless but effective trader who, even after making $115 million, still lacks enough money for a really big deal. Other promising newcomers: Washington, D.C.-based Arthur Goldberg, 45, (''could become a big player, but the jury is still out,'' says an investment banker), and reclusive English investor Alan Clore, who keeps even his age (in the early 40s) a secret. A raider's reputation -- a currency worth more than money -- rises and falls with each deal. To determine how a dozen major raiders rate (see Shark Scale), FORTUNE informally surveyed investment bankers, arbitragers, takeover lawyers, and institutional investors. The benchmarks were credibility, financial clout, aggressiveness, savvy, and success in making money, both for themselves and shareholders.

Belzberg Brothers

BIG DEALS: Scovill, 1985, $540-million investment; Gulf, 1984, $70-million profit; Bache Group, 1981, $40-million profit.

THE BELZBERGS -- from left, Hyman, 62, William, 55, and Sam, 59 -- got a bad rap when they descended from Alberta in 1980 to scare Bache into the arms of Prudential. Bache executives spread unsubstantiated stories about the Belzbergs' alleged ties to organized crime -- seems U.S. Customs agents spotted Hymie socializing with Mafiosi in Acapulco -- and they've never been able to dispel the sleazy image. The sons of a Polish immigrant who made a small fortune in used furniture, the Belzbergs are led by middle son Sam, who built up the family's cash by trading oil and gas leases in Canada. The brothers used their notoriety from the Bache episode to put a string of companies, including Potlatch and Ashland Oil, in play. When the target managements offered them extra money for their shares -- greenmail -- the brothers took it. They've also joined raids led by Carl Icahn (Phillips Petroleum) and Boone Pickens (Gulf). In the past decade the Belzbergs have taken over only one major company, Scovill, the Connecticut-based industrial conglomerate. They recently recovered their $540-million investment, but have lost money on other deals including H.H. Robertson, a construction company, and Century Capital Associates, an investment management firm. Arbitragers distrust them because they accept greenmail. Investment bankers consider them mainly financial opportunists, and not particularly good ones. Says one: ''They overpaid for the one company they bought, and they're nickel-and-dimeartists on everything else.''

Coniston Partners

BIG DEALS: Allegis, 1987, $230-million paper profit; Viacom International, 1985-86, $61-million profit; Storer Communications, 1985, $39-million profit.

CONISTON is the new name in town. The three principles -- from left, Gus Oliver, 37, Keith Gollust, 42, and Paul Tierney Jr., 44 -- have yet to take over a company. Instead they engage in what they call ''strategic block investing.'' They buy big positions in companies with assets they consider undervalued by the stock market, and then they try to influence management to restructure and thus boost the stock's price. Says one takeover lawyer: ''They're not in it to operate. They hope something happens.'' The partners get high marks for investment savvy, doing their homework, clever proxy tactics, and brilliant timing. Their triumph over Allegis this , spring lifted the group into the first tier of corporate raiders. The trio played a key role in pressuring the company's board to dump Chief Executive Richard Ferris and sell off Westin Hotels and the Hertz car rental operation rather than meld them with United Airlines into a grand travel empire, as Ferris wanted. The stock took off from around $60 to over $90, and Coniston, which is still holding on to its investment, clearly thinks it will go higher. ''People don't think they're raiders because they're young and smile a lot, but ask Storer Communications, or Richard Ferris at Allegis,'' says one dealmaker. ''Coniston took them to the wall.'' The only factor keeping the partners from a higher rating is money. Much of the $700 million they manage is tied up in current deals, restricting their scope to only a few plays at a time.

Asher Edelman

BIG DEALS: Burlington Industries, 1987, $65-million profit; Ponderosa, 1987, $300-million investment; Fruehauf, 1986, $21-million profit.

A TAUT, ATHLETIC MAN who looks as if Ralph Lauren dresses him personally, Edelman, 47, is the first to admit he is a something of an enigma on Wall Street. Mention his name to an investment banker and you are likely to get a guffaw. Best not to mention it to arbitragers because many of them have lost money on him. ''He's a minus 20,'' says one coldly. ''You can't trust the guy.'' Other critics, who concede he is bright, complain he thinks too highly of himself and won't listen to advice. A takeover specialist says: ''He's a loose cannon who is all over the lot.'' Still, Edelman commands begrudging respect for spotting undervalued companies and hanging in there, even when he runs into trouble. Edelman is an asset player who used to buy a big position in a company and then persuade management to sell off divisions, on the often valid theory that the parts are worth more separately than together. He scored with a New York real estate holding company and a small New Jersey computer company but quickly ran into trouble when he tried to duplicate the feat in 1984 by buying into two more computer firms. Both had a raft of unseen problems that he is still trying to solve. Undaunted, Edelman now professes that owning and operating companies can be more profitable than liquidating them. Recently, though, he has made more money from quarry that got away (Burlington Industries) than those he has won (Ponderosa). He has also taken up teaching at Columbia University's School ! of Business. His course: Corporate Raiding -- The Art of War.

Sir James Goldsmith

BIG DEALS: Goodyear, 1987, $90-million profit; Crown Zellerbach, 1985, $580- million investment; Diamond International, 1980, $500-million profit.

SUAVE, IMPOSING Jimmy Goldsmith, 55, ranks among the smartest and heaviest- hitting corporate raiders. In addition to brains, money, and track record, Goldsmith gets credit from the takeover fraternity for charm and class -- qualities that have made him more acceptable to the boards of target companies than abrasive raiders like Carl Icahn. Goldsmith fills his residences in Manhattan, London, Paris, and the Spanish countryside with elegant tapestries and fine art, and for years made no secret of his unusual domestic arrangements: a wife and two children in Paris and a mistress and three children in London (he eventually divorced, and married the mistress). When Goldsmith recently sold off much of the multinational empire he built in finance, publishing, forest products, and food, he said he was tired of management. But financial observers say he is worried about political attacks on takeovers in the wake of the Boesky affair and the possible collapse of highflying stock markets worldwide. At a congressional hearing on his proposed takeover of Goodyear last fall, he warned that the U.S. was in danger of catching what he calls the European disease: ''a triangular alliance of big unions, big government, and big management.'' This year Goldsmith discussed investing in Pan Am at the urging of the troubled airline's unions, but Wall Street insiders say he is quiescent for the moment. ''He looks like a bearish investor who is cashing in,'' says one money manager. Another notes, however, that he is sitting on a lot of cash: ''If he wants to go, get out of his way.''

Herbert Haft

BIG DEALS: Supermarkets General, 1987, $40-million profit; Safeway, 1986, $140-million profit; Jack Eckerd, 1985, $9-million profit.

THE HAFTS of Washington, D.C., are puzzling but promising comers in the raiding game. The son of a pharmacist, Herbert, 66, pioneered the concept of discount drugstores and developed a major local chain, Dart Drugs. His son Robert, 35, a graduate of the Harvard Business School, applied the same discount concept to books, building Crown into America's third-largest bookseller. At the peak of the expansion in discount retailing in 1984, Herbert sold Dart Drug to its management for $160 million and launched a series of raids on national retailers. Terrified of Haft's cheapskate reputation -- he was known for paying bills late and undermanning his stores -- most of his targets chose to go private rather than surrender. Says one M&A chief: ''He ran that drugstore chain down the tubes and then he sold it to his own people, who overpaid for it.'' Haft is a little eccentric. Married to a beautician, he styles his shock of white hair into an eye-popping pompadour; he won't talk to the press, and last year tore down a $1-million Tudor mansion he bought in Washington so he could build a grander $4-million house in its place. While he has failed to take over any of his targets, he has pocketed millions in trading profits and earned a reputation for accepting greenmail. Wall Street has only recently begun taking the Haft father-and-son team seriously and pegs them primarily as speculators. ''They say they want to own and manage companies, but they're real estate guys at heart,'' says a takeover lawyer. ''They always stop a couple bucks short when a company wants to get sold.''

Robert Holmes a Court

BIG DEALS: BHP, 1987, $1-billion paper profit; Texaco, 1987, $180-million paper profit; Herald & Weekly Times of Australia, 1986, $70-million profit.

THE INTENTIONS of Holmes a Court are as mystifying to most investors as his nomad background. His father was a British migrant worker in South Africa who ended up with a farm in Rhodesia. Holmes a Court (the Anglo-French name dates to the Norman Conquest) studied agriculture in New Zealand and law in Western Australia, only to drop his practice in Perth, where he still lives, to pursue big-time investing around the world. His specialty: troubled companies. Holmes a Court built his fortune by turning around a government-subsidized wool mill, an ailing supplier of construction equipment, and various media holdings in Australia. A patient hunter, he has been stalking Broken Hill Proprietary, Australia's biggest company, for six years and today owns about 30%. Like Rupert Murdoch, Holmes a Court moved on to big game in Britain and the U.S. He took over Associated Communications from Sir Lew Grade for $80 million, then sold rights to Beatles' songs carried on the books at $5 million to Michael Jackson for $40 million. In the U.S. he has taken positions in Asarco (12%), USX (under 5%), and most recently Texaco (9.4%). < A soft-spoken recluse who collects art, Rolls-Roycesand race horses, Holmes a Court gets a middling rating as a raider on Wall Street, largely because people can't decide whether he is for real. ''He's more of an investor than a raider,'' says one money manager. ''He's very smart, but he spreads himself too thin,'' says an investment banker. ''If he went for manageable targets, he would gain credibility and could become a major player.''

Carl Icahn

BIG DEALS: TWA, 1986-87, $100-million paper profit; USX, 1986, $100-million paper profit; Union Carbide, 1986, $40-million profit.

GETTING STUCK with TWA could have been the best thing that ever happened to Icahn, 52, the mild-mannered New York suburbanite who apparently loves to be hated. Up until his dogfight with the airline last year, he had perfected the hostile takeover bid into what has become the textbook corporate raid, making millions for himself and co-investors along the way. Typically he would buy into a company, bang the drums about mismanagement, threaten a takeover bid, and then either sell out as the company's stock price rose or accept a buyout or greenmail offer. Unlike other raiders, Icahn has a thick skin about the G word. ''Carl is in it for Carl,'' says another raider. ''His favorite quote is, 'If you want a friend, buy a dog.' '' A dog is just what troubled TWA looked like after Icahn's junk bond financing fell apart in the wake of the Boesky scandal. Rather than bail out at a loss, Icahn soon proved he was as good a manager as a corporate critic. TWA reported record operating profits for this year's second quarter, and Icahn now proposes to take the company private in a $1.2-billion deal that would give him back his $440-million investment, plus 90% of the company. That coup has sent Icahn's own stock soaring on Wall Street. Ironically, his success at TWA may change his status from vilified raider to member in good standing of corporate America. Complains one arbitrager, who downgraded Icahn from a 4 to a 3 because of his new management role: ''He's less of a factor now because he's too wrapped up in TWA.''

Irwin Jacobs

BIG DEALS: Bekins, 1986, $90-million investment; Walt Disney, 1986, $28- million profit; AMF, 1985, $560-million investment.

IN THE RAIDING BUSINESS you're only as good as your last deal. Irwin Jacobs's latest transaction was selling his chief investment conglomerate, Minstar, a hodgepodge of companies whose stock price has been flat, to one of its subsidiaries, Genmar, a profitable boatmaker. The result: Minstar's stock picked up and Genmar's slid -- not the kind of stuff that excites Wall Street. The deal seemed to sum up Jacobs's current status. He has been churning up as much water as usual but doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. In August he splashed around Gillette and McGraw-Hill. Jacobs made a name for himself -- Irv the Liquidator -- buying failing companies and liquidating their assets for million-dollar profits. His reputation grew when he took over AMF, the well-knownsporting goods company. But he started to make a habit of taking big stock positions in companies, sending threatening letters to their managements, and then selling out as the stock price jumped, often pocketing greenmail in the process. As a result, many Wall Street insiders think of him primarily as a trader, and not always a good one. Says one arbitrager, remembering Jacobs's ill-advised investment in Tidewater, an oil and gas company: ''It's tough to buy a stock at $25 a share and have it go to $5.'' A college dropout, Jacobs gets a low rating on smarts from some Wall Street pros but scores high on sheer aggressiveness. Says one sharp-tongued dealmaker: ''He's thick in the neck and narrow in the brain.'' Another calls him a bull in a china shop: ''There's no rhyme or reason to anything he does.''

Ron Perelman

BIG DEALS: CPC International, 1986, $94-million profit; Pantry Pride, 1985, $60-million investment; Revlon, 1985, $1.8-billion investment.

THE CIGAR-SMOKING CHAIRMAN of Revlon recently pulled into the takeover fast lane, scooting up to become one of the most respected and aggressive raiders around. In the past year he made passes at Transworld, the restaurant and hotel chain, CPC International, the food processor, and -- three times -- Gillette, the razor and toiletries company. He is a tough and tenacious negotiator who holds on until he gets what he wants. The son of a wealthy sheet-metal manufacturer from Philadelphia, Perelman ran his father's firm for a couple of years before striking off on his own in New York, where he bought control of his first company, a jewelry distributor. Other acquisitions followed in quick succession. Perelman, 44, is a leveraged- buyout artist who goes after companies he considers overdiversified, with high cash flows and low stock prices. Once in control, he sells off the divisions and assets he deems superfluous and beefs up the core business. Perelman is married (for the second time) to gossip columnist Claudia Cohen, who has helped the once publicity-shy executive develop a celebrity profile. Their wedding party took place at the Palladium, a chic Manhattan dance club. ''He came out of nowhere and has proven himself to be a very smart businessman who pays close attention to what he is doing,'' says Ronald Freeman, co-headof Salomon Brothers' mergers and acquisitions department. Adds Robert Willard, the M&A chief at Prudential-Bache: ''He is perceived as someone who wants to buy and control assets rather than just trade them.''

T. Boone Pickens

BIG DEALS: Phillips Petroleum, 1985, $89-million profit; Unocal, 1985, $83- millionprofit; Gulf, 1984, $218-million profit.

BOONE should have stayed in the oil patch. His simultaneous attacks this summer on defense contractors Boeing and Singer, followed by a $5.6-billion bid for Newmont Mining, have confused Wall Street and undermined his credibility. His rating has slipped sharply as a result. The consensus seems to be that Pickens, 58, is having trouble meeting the $50-million annual dividend obligation of Mesa Limited Partnership, which he heads, and consequently is looking to shake some trees for quick stock-trading profits. Says one M&A specialist: ''He's a desperate man.'' A fitness buff and sportsman, Pickens hunts quail on his Texas Panhandle ranch, plays racquetball, prides himself on his poker, and hates smoking -- he has a habit of snatching cigarettes out of employees' mouths and stubbing them out. One dealmaker notes Pickens has been less formidable since he stopped working with well-known takeover lawyer Joseph Flom, and concludes: ''Boone's been out of it for two years, and now he's playing a shill game -- not very successfully. The last big company he tried to get, Diamond Shamrock, blew him away.'' Takeover specialists show a tinge of disappointment that such a colorful and popular Wall Street hero has fallen from grace. ''Pickens did the nation a real favor over the last five years when he forced the oil industry to consolidate against its will,'' says a dealmaker. ''But he is the archetype of the corporate raider who never bought anything. In the last few weeks he has totally undercut his image. I don't know what the hell he's doing.''

Donald Trump

BIG DEALS: Resorts International, 1987, $101-million investment; Allegis, 1987, $72-million profit; Holiday, 1986, $38-million profit.

IT WAS PERHAPS INEVITABLE that Donald Trump, 41, would be drawn to the takeover wars. The attention-seeking New York master builder likes action, has made a ton of money, and fancies himself the world's best dealmaker. While he was erecting luxurious skyscrapers in Manhattan and, later, glittering casinos in Atlantic City -- many of which bear his name -- the business press covered him only scantily as it was hyperventilating over the new swashbucklers of the 1980s, the corporate raiders. Trump is no dummy when it comes to promotion. He tested the waters in Atlantic City, making passes at Holiday Corp. and Bally before buying Resorts. He also dabbled in such companies as American Can and RCA. ''It was just too easy,'' he said. ''I buy stock -- and boom.'' He made his biggest killing on Allegis, acquiring shares at $30 and selling out a few months later at $65 -- too soon, as it turns out, since the stock recently traded over $90. With drive, money, and a real estate man's eye for asset values, Trump appears to possess all the qualifications of a big league raider. But the consensus on Wall Street is that he lacks credibility. His recent political statements, stirring up rumors he may run for President, haven't helped. ''I don't have the slightest idea what he's doing,'' says one takeover lawyer. ''He's in and out, in and out. It's hard to separate the man from the publicity.'' Says an arbitrager: ''He's out for Donald Trump. He will sell his position out, take greenmail, and he doesn't care what happens to other shareholders.''

Sir Gordon White

BIG DEALS: Kaiser Cement, 1987, $200-million investment; SCM, 1986, $930- million investment; U.S. Industries, 1984, $533-million profit.

HANSON TRUST, a relatively obscure Anglo-Americanholding company run by Lord Hanson in England and his dapper partner, Sir Gordon White, in the U.S., has built up a war chest of over $6 billion -- rivaling Ford Motor Co.'s $9.1- billion hoard. That fact alone makes Hanson Trust one of the most daunting raiders in the business. And unlike Ford, which concentrates on building cars, Hanson Trust focuses mainly on acquiring companies. In the past two years the company has doubled revenues to $6.2 billion by buying mismanaged nuts-and-bolts firms with dependable cash flows, lots of salable assets, and low price-earnings ratios. Generally Hanson Trust sells some assets to reduce debt and holds others it thinks it can turn into winners by cutting costs. Sir Gordon, 64, a voluble playboy who has been divorced three times and dates actresses and models, says the company's aim is to become Britain's largest conglomerate and one of the 50 biggest in the U.S. (it is now ranked 97 on the FORTUNE 500). Lately finding low-priced companies has been difficult, though not impossible. In August, Hanson announced a $1.8-billion deal to acquire Kidde, which makes everything from kitchen pots to Jacuzzis. White has dropped hints he is prowling for something a lot bigger that could double Hanson Trust's revenues overnight. Seeing a track record like his, Wall Street takes Sir Gordon at his word. One investment banker says: ''Everything they've gone after, they've acquired. And they haven't overpaid.''