Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Zapata Exploration Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

Zapata Exploration Company

List of Deals

Named for the movie Viva Zapata! Zapata Corporation was formed by the 1953 merger of George H. W. Bush's Bush-Overby oil company and another oil firm run by Hugh and Bill Liedtke. After going public in 1955, Bush and the Liedtkes split the company in 1959, with Bush taking over Zapata Off-Shore. The Liedtkes and Bush set in motion a corporate entity that matured into a sprawling force in international energy-processing, with corporate reaches into a spectrum of diversified businesses, including natural gas compression, off-shore drilling, and coal mining. At its peak as a global conglomerate, Zapata collected as much as $350 million in annual sales, exerting itself as a formidable force in its various industries. However, the most intriguing chapter in the company's history began when its encouraging success started to unravel at an alarming speed. Debt accumulated in the wake of the company's sanguine years, touching off a two-decade period that saw the company scramble to forestall bankruptcy while it grappled with shaping a new identity for itself. The search to find a solution to its profound problems steered Zapata far away from its original business, into a field Bush and the Liedtkes could never have imagined. Bush sold his stake in Zapata in 1966 after being elected to Congress. In 1973 the company bought fish processor Haynie Products.

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