Cogent Inc., the fingerprint- identification systems maker, asked a Delaware judge to reject shareholders’ call to put its 3M Co. buyout deal on hold in favor of a late, higher bid by NEC Corp.

The bid from NEC, Japan’s largest maker of personal computers, was too late, was not firm enough and would pose antitrust risks, Cogent’s attorney Donald J. Wolfe said yesterday in a Chancery Court hearing in Wilmington, Delaware.

The investors asked Chancery Court Judge Donald F. Parsons to halt the 3M sale and require Cogent to eliminate the deal protections they say are precluding a firm offer from NEC. Parsons said he’ll rule before 3M’s offer expires at midnight, Oct. 7. Cogent’s board rejected NEC’s offer of more than $1 billion because it was not a binding bid, Wolfe said.

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