January 5, 1986 |
About four years ago, Du Pont Co., normally one of the most cautious and deliberate of American corporations, stunned Wall Street by leaping headlong into a fierce three-way fight for Conoco Inc., the Stamford, Conn., oil company. Du Pont, of course, was victorious. It bested rivals Mobil Corp. and Seagram Co. Ltd. with a staggering bid of $7.7 billion and absorbed Conoco in what was, at the time, the largest corporate merger ever. But Du Pont paid another price as well. When the smoke had cleared, Seagram, the Canadian-based liquor distiller, was left holding 20 percent of Du Pont's common stock.