A Detroit securities firm is considering a buyout offer or offers, a source familiar with the company said.
Seventy-two-year-old Roney & Co., which is privately held, acknowledged recently that it had been approached about "possible business alliances."
The source said these included sale, and that the approaches might have come from First Chicago NBD Corp. and Comerica Inc., the two largest banking companies in Detroit; or from two securities firms, McDonald & Company Securities of Cleveland and Robert W. Baird & Co. of Milwaukee.
None of the companies would comment.
In a prepared statement, Roney said that "as we have done in the past with similar inquiries, we are thoroughly analyzing our various options, including continuing our present course as the state's leading investment securities and investment banking firm."
Roney's 125 partners have always decided that they would do better by staying independent. Roney is relatively small, with $25 million of capital and 27 offices in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. It focuses on small to midsize companies in the Great Lakes region.
Though it is unclear what price the company would fetch, it would take a fairly large company to absorb it.
McDonald, a publicly held company with a market capitalization of $323.5 million, would expand a sizable Midwest franchise by buying Roney. McDonald, which had income of $17 million for the nine months ended Dec. 31, has been rumored as a takeover target itself.
Baird is majority owned by Northwestern Mutual Co., a Milwaukee insurer, and already has an investment banking venture with First Chicago that provides corporate finance services to their clients.
Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for First Chicago, declined to say whether it was interested in buying an investment firm. "In general, the corporation is acquisition-ready," Mr. Kelly said, "and we have said we would look for ways to serve our customers better."
Comerica has shown interest in buying such a business. In 1993, it had an agreement to buy another Detroit firm, First of Michigan Corp., but that deal was scuttled when most of First of Michigan's corporate finance department defected to Roney.
However, Comerica is restructuring to become more profitable, and buying Roney could disrupt that effort.