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To Haft And Haft Not


Up Front

TO HAFT AND HAFT NOT

A major plot point approaches in the saga of the Haft family fight for control of Dart Group: On Sept. 30, outside directors, who for now are running Dart, will decide on the validity of stock options that patriarch Herbert granted son Ronald when they were allies last summer. These days, they're at odds.

If upheld, the options would give Ronnie, Dart's president, a 44% stake in the company, with Herbert's reduced from 52% to 33%. Dart Chairman Herbert set that up to make his assets less attractive in his divorce from Gloria Haft. If Herbert wins, he's likely to try to oust Ronnie. A win by Ronnie means no one will have control, and insiders say the board might appoint one of their own as chairman.

So Ronnie has sought--thus far in vain--to win back his estranged mother Gloria and sister Linda, both owners of Dart stock. Should he cobble together a victory, he may try to sell off the empire his father created. He has hired law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to help do a breakup valuation. Dart has real estate around Washington, plus stakes in Crown Books, Trak Auto, and Shoppers Food Warehouse. Currently, Dart trades at $80 per share, but analysts say it could fetch $200 broken up.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER


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