Dresser Set to Acquire Tokheim

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Dresser Set to Acquire Tokheim

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- A major competitor would control Tokheim Corp. if a Connecticut investment company has the winning bid in a bankruptcy court auction.

First Reserve Corp. said it would assign the right to acquire Tokheim North America to Dresser Inc. Dresser is the parent company of Dresser Wayne that, along with Tokheim and a third company, Gilbarco, is a major U.S. maker of retail service station equipment, according to The (Ind.) News-Sentinel.

The announcement confirmed what had been widely speculated -- that First Reserve, largest shareholder in Dresser, is simply a middleman that has no intention of keeping the bankrupt Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company a separate business. On Friday, the debtors who control Tokheim had announced First Reserve's $42 million bid for the North American business would be accepted if the bankruptcy court received no better bid.

"We are finalizing our transition plan for the business," John Ryan, president of Dresser Wayne, said in a statement. "We look forward to having the opportunity to combine forces with Tokheim North America. We recognize that Tokheim and its employees have been through a very difficult period and we hope to bring balance and stability to the operations we are acquiring."

Although Ryan said the company would "preserve the Gasboy, Tokheim Service and MSI business units," it was unclear what the intentions are for the Fort Wayne operations and its 500 local employees.

It has been widely assumed Dresser Wayne would consolidate manufacturing to its headquarters state of Texas. The service station equipment market, mired in a three-year market slump, has much more factory capacity than sales justify.

The Tokheim retail pump business is being valued at bargain-basement prices. Tokheim's retail pump operations have four times the assets of Gasboy, the company's commercial pump operations. But the $30 million price assigned to Gasboy is more than twice that of $12 million for Tokheim's retail pump business.

That's a reflection of the value of a profitable division compared with one saddled with debt and sliding sales. Details of a proposed sale of Tokheim Corp.'s domestic operations are outlined in filings with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The company entered bankruptcy Nov. 21 for the second time in two years.

Bankruptcy court will conduct an auction if additional bids are received. In three motions filed Friday, the company's debtors, who have controlled Tokheim since the first bankruptcy, say First Reserve was the most financially capable of the final group of bidders.

ABOVE: BP's state-of-the-art fuel dispensers developed by Tokheim Corp. for Connect convenience stores.