Martin Marietta gets quick appeal on Vulcan bid

Wed May 16, 2012 6:02pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Martin Marietta Materials Inc (MLM.N) on Wednesday won an expedited appeal of a Delaware court ruling halting its $5 billion hostile offer to buy Vulcan Materials Inc (VMC.N).

The Delaware Supreme Court agreed to hear Martin Marietta's appeal on May 25, reviving the company's hopes that it might pursue a proxy fight for board seats at Vulcan's annual shareholder meeting on June 1, exactly one week later.

Martin Marietta, a gravel maker, is seeking to overturn a May 4 ruling by Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Chancery Court that barred it from pursuing its proxy fight and tender offer for larger rival Vulcan for four months.

Strine found that Martin Marietta had violated a confidentiality agreement it had signed with Vulcan when the two began friendly merger talks in 2010.

Those talks broke off in mid-2011, and Martin Marietta launched its unsolicited tender offer in December.

It has contended that a combined company could deliver $250 million of annual cost savings to shareholders.

Martin Marietta hopes to win four seats on Vulcan's board of directors. While that is not a majority, Martin Marietta hopes it would be enough to help convince other directors to engage in merger talks.

Meanwhile, the company's shares closed down 8 percent, to end Wednesday's trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $68.60. The drop came after the co-founder of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn, said the stock was overvalued.

(Reporting By Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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