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For Lucas' Chief, Trouble Across The Pond


In Business This Week: Headliner

FOR LUCAS' CHIEF, TROUBLE ACROSS THE POND

Britain's George Simpson has modest tastes. His hobbies include watching rugby and downing a pint at the local pub. But now, Simpson, 52--who took the helm at $4 billion Lucas Industries in May, after turning carmaker Rover Group around--may not have time even for such diversions.

In late July, Lucas admitted publicly that it failed to test properly the wing-flap actuators on Boeing 767 commercial jets--although it and Boeing say that the parts pass inspection. Though Lucas denies published reports that the U.S. Justice Dept. has launched a criminal probe, one may yet be started.

On top of that, in May, Lucas paid a $12 million fine after pleading guilty to supplying defective missile-launchers and radios to the U.S. Defense Dept. And the U.S. Attorney for Southern California is investigating whether Lucas intentionally supplied substandard engine gearboxes for the Navy's F/A-18 fighter-jet program, a top law-enforcement source says. A spokesman says Lucas has fixed the gearbox glitches, but the indictments still are considered likely. Looks as if Simpson won't be doing much drinking with the boys any time soon.EDITED BY THANE PETERSON By Paula Dwyer


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