From November 1989 ... reminded by recent Waldorf sale (emphasis mine):
The sale of controlling interest in Rockefeller Group Inc. to a Japanese firm was denounced by some people as a foreign takeover of one of America's classic landmarks.
But U.S. companies weren't totally left out in the cold. The owner of Rockefeller Center contacted some 20 potential investors -- two-thirds of them from the U.S. -- in its search for a joint venture partner.
Few of the dozen interested parties could compete, however, with Mitsubishi Estate Co., real-estate professionals say, because it wanted so badly to get into the New York market and was willing to act faster and pay more.
The Japanese real estate giant agreed last month to pay $846 million for 51% of Rockefeller Group, which also is involved in real estate development, management and brokerage.
People familiar with competing firms' strategies say Mitsubishi's offer was much higher than offers that others were contemplating. But other potential investors complain Mitsubishi had an unfair advantage. They say Mitsubishi got a jump on studying Rockefeller Group's finances and was allowed to make an advance bid that pre-empted an auction.
Not so, says Raymond Mikulich, managing director of Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc., which handled the sale for Rockefeller Group. He says all investors were told they could place a pre-emptive bid by agreeing to the seller's financial and management conditions. "But of all the people we talked to, none was as aggressive as Mitsubishi," he says.
They increased their stake in Rockefeller Group in July 1990 and July 1991. Japanese had bad timing with Pebble Beach golf course and Hotel Bel-Air as well.