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"Those who believe my age is ... a reason not to vote for me have been silenced."-- Strom Thurmond, 93, winning the South Carolina GOP primary for his Senate seat over two younger challengersEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

MAYBE AL D'AMATO WAS JUST LUCKY

SENATOR ALFONSE D'AMATO (R-N.Y.) had noted success with a young broker at the Stratton Oakmont firm. But some of broker David Beall's other customers have lodged complaints against him.

In June, 1993, D'Amato entrusted $18,000 to Beall, an old friend's son-in-law. Within a few days, Beall had tripled D'Amato's money via an investment in a Stratton Oakmont underwriting. Three months later, after trading losses, D'Amato closed out his account with $29,000. In the subsequent political uproar, D'Amato denies that he got special treatment.

National Association of Securities Dealers records show Beall has logged eight customer complaints since 1992, alleging such violations as misrepresentation. One was dismissed; seven await disposition. A recent NASD survey found that only about 700 gf the 500,000 registered brokers have seven or more complaints.

Beall joined Biltmore Securities last year after it bought Stratton Oakmont's Bethesda (Md.) office, which hired him in 1989. Stratton Oakmont, which the SEC has disciplined for its sales practices, says it has cleaned up its past misdeeds. Beall couldn't be reached, and a Biltmore lawyer said only that the firm's compliance rules are strict.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Michael SchroederReturn to top

NETSCAPE WASN'T ENOUGH

ONCE AN ENTREPRENEUR, always an entrepreneur. James Clark is already a paper billionaire after taking Internet star Netscape public last year. That followed his 1981 founding of Silicon Graphics, now a $3 billion computer maker.

Well, Clark is about to launch yet another startup. On June 18, he will unveil Healthscape, an online service to help doctors, insurers, and patients exchange data and do business over the Internet. Already, it says it has signed up one unnamed health insurer.

Clark and three venture capitalists are investing $5 million. Although Clark is chairman of both Healthscape and Netscape, the two are separate. Netscape will remain his main job. Healthscape expects to name a CEO soon.

The new software is based on Netscape's Navigator, the most popular Web browser. Healthscape's target: a piece of the $150 billion spent yearly on health-care administration. One big challenge will be getting everyone to keep records the same way.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Rob HofReturn to top

FROM BIO-WHIZ TO BIO-DEADBEAT?

FINANCIER DAVID BLECH, THE former biotech wizard whose investment firm failed in 1994, is broke. Or is he? Some of his creditors say he has been reaping a bonanza from old equity stakes in biotech outfits. And they want some of the boodle.

His 6% stake in Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which went public in February, is now worth $4.2 million. Four ex-brokers for D. Blech & Co. are asking a judge to enforce NASD awards for back pay totaling almost $1 million, which they say he personally guaranteed. Blech's position is that the brokers didn't perform their duties, which they deny.

Blech once provided capital for dozens of small biotech startups in return for equity. But in late 1994, amid a biotech market downturn, D. Blech & Co. lost its broker-dealer's license when it couldn't meet capital requirements. Since then, the market has recovered and the success of such "Blech companies" as Alexion convinces his creditors that he's in good shape again. Says the lawyer for the former Blech brokers, Lloyd Schwed of Hertz, Schram & Saretsky in West Palm Beach: "David has told me for two years he's broke, but he sure isn't."

The finances of Blech, who declined to comment, are tangled. He has several trusts set up for his remaining holdings in biotech and other securities--one for his young son. Schwed alleges that Blech controls the trusts and benefits from the millions that they spin off in income.

A close associate of Blech says that proceeds from the trusts are earmarked for such large creditors as Citibank, to which Blech once owed $50 million. Citi is mum on that debt's current status.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


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