Volkswagen nearing a deal with Carl Icahn to buy trucking giant Navistar

Navistar — a US truck manufacturer whose big shareholders include Icahn and his former protege Mark Rachesky, said Friday it’s willing to sell itself to Volkswagen’s truck-making subsidiary Traton for $44.50 a share — a deal valuing the company at about $3.7 billion.

But it’s sorely short of the $50 a share that Icahn had been asking , according to sources close to the talks, and Rachesky was said to have wanted significantly more.

Traton added that it would withdraw its offer at 6 p.m. Friday unless Navistar said in writing it was willing to proceed with discussions with a view to reaching a deal at that price.

Traton’s hard-knuckle announcement had sent Navistar’s shares tumbling 20 percent on Wednesday.

Early Friday, Navistar disclosed a letter its chairman Troy Clarke wrote to Traton that had countered with a request for $44.50 a share — a price that had the blessing of both Icahn and Rachesky, according to Clarke.

Navistar shares on Friday were recently up 21 percent at $42.94, indicating investors are confident about a deal at $43, but not yet convinced Icahn would get his final asking price.

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