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"When the voter speaks, I listen--particularly if the voter is saying someone else's name." -- Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), bowing out of the Presidential race after his fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucusesEDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABIReturn to top

WILL KERKORIAN BLOW IT ALL ON THE TABLES?

KIRK KERKORIAN COMES AWAY with a big financial bonus from his truce with Chrysler. So where is the Las Vegas billionaire going to direct his even-heftier financial resources? Atlantic City.

Kerkorian just applied for a New Jersey gaming license. That bodes for a major expansion of his casino operations into booming Atlantic City, where 1995 revenues were up 10%. His agents are busy scouting sites in the area. In Las Vegas, he already owns the MGM Grand, the world's largest hotel, and a half-interest in another huge complex, New York-New York. Kerkorian is also trolling for undervalued companies, much as Chrysler used to do.

Thanks to the pact with Chrysler, he has still more jack to work with. The deal calls for the auto maker to triple its stock-buyback program. Kerkorian intends to use this to cash out some of his 51 million Chrysler shares. Eventually, he could sell the 13.8% stake to Chrysler, or the auto maker may help him find buyers it can live with, says a source close to the Chrysler-Kerkorian talks. "If he does decide to get out, he'll have to work with Chrysler," says the source.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY BILL VLASICReturn to top

ABOUT THAT BONUS: SEE YOU IN COURT

EMPLOYEES OF MERRY-GO-Round Enterprises, the about-to-close clothing retailer, likely won't receive their promised bonuses, even though the CEO is getting paid in full.

At issue: a so-called "retention bonus" that the chain, which entered Chapter 11 in late 1994, had promised 400 managers and other midlevel employees if they stayed through Jan. 30, 1996. Shortly before Jan. 30, a company memo came out pushing the date to Feb. 3. On Feb. 2, Merry-Go-Round said it would fold and fired everybody. So those promised the retention bonuses, ranging from $750 to $13,000 depending on salary, stand to get zip. Grousing grew even louder when the company, on Feb. 4, rehired 100 to help with the liquidation--sans bonus. Says Buzzy Sklar, a men's-merchandise manager: "It was a major hosing."

It doesn't help that CEO Richard Crystal, a former top exec at Macy's who arrived just six months ago, gets to pocket $2.5 million soon. Court filings say that sum, his salary, was to be spread over three years, but he can take it all if he leaves before. The liquidation is expected to be done in a few months. The company, which bet wrong on its youth fashions, won't comment on the pay situation other than to say employees can press their claim in court.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY ROY FURCHGOTTReturn to top

A CORPORATE GADFLY HITS THE STUMP

ROBERT MONKS has had more success as a shareholder activist than as a politician. Yet Monks, for the third time, is seeking a Senate seat from Maine.

Before, he got trounced by venerable incumbents: Republican Margaret Chase Smith (1972) and Democrat Edmund Muskie (1976). But now, Monks, 62, seeks an open seat: Republican Senator William Cohen is retiring. Monks's huge wealth from investing is a big political plus. A longtime donor in Maine politics, he has enlisted top campaign staffers and won key endorsements.

His chief foe in the June 11 GOP primary is Susan Collins, the losing entry in the 1994 governor's race. They'll battle for the moderate vote, creating a possible opening for the arch-conservative third candidate, State Senator John Hathaway. Likely Democratic nominee: ex-Governor Joseph Brennan.

As the gadfly head of the Lens fund, he has pushed for better performance from the likes of Eastman Kodak and Sears Roebuck. He also has government experience as a top Reagan Administration pension regulator. Monks's pitch is that he can overhaul Washington as he did corporate governance. "Power without accountability," he says, "is a problem in government just as it is in corporations."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY MARK MAREMONTReturn to top


Toyota's Hydrogen Man
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