Just when it looked as if Loral and Carlyle Group had snagged LTV's missile and aircraft divisions for $430 million, an offer from Martin Marietta opened a new phase in the battle of the defense giants. Early this year, Martin had teamed with Lockheed to offer $385 million for the LTV units. But Martin on Aug. 3 unveiled a $440 million offer that surpassed Loral's. Hours later, Loral and Carlyle, a Washington investment boutique, bumped their bid to $445 million.

A bankruptcy judge could determine the winner of the LTV businesses at an Aug. 13 court hearing in New York. The hearing will basically end up as "an auction," says Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz, though he won't say whether he will raise his company's bid. He doesn't see any evidence that other bidders are interested, so it may come down to Loral vs. Martin at the meeting.

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