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Toys `R' Her


In Business This Week: HEADLINER: JILL BARAD

TOYS `R' HER

ONE OF JILL BARAD'S FIRST big jobs at Mattel was creating She-Ra, Princess of Power. On Aug. 22, the woman who gave us the female action hero was expected to be named CEO of Mattel, effective Jan. 1, replacing John Amerman, who is set to retire.

Barad, 45, credits her 15-year climb through the ranks at Mattel--which included more than tripling Barbie sales, to $1.5 billion, in eight years--to unrelenting hard work. "I never looked up. I just kept going," she says. She will be one of a handful of women running major American corporations.

Her first move: expanding abroad. She expects overseas business to eventually account for more than 50% of sales, up from 40%. "The business is there for the taking," she says. That's good, because Mattel's growth in the U.S. is slipping. And the company suffered a major public-relations blow this year when a planned merger with archrival Hasbro fell through.

Barad must hustle to keep growth on track--but she's used to adversity. She-Ra ultimately flopped.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLAND By Eric SchineReturn to top

MICROSOFT VS. NETSCAPE, PART TWO

THE BATTLE CONTINUES. For the second time in a month, Netscape Communications has accused Microsoft of violating antitrust laws. In a letter made public on Aug. 20, Netscape lawyer Gary Reback asked the Justice Dept. to restrain Microsoft practices he contends are illegal. Reback says Microsoft gave discounts to computer makers that offer its World Wide Web browser instead of Netscape's and paid some Internet service providers up to $400,000 in marketing funds for not selling Netscape software. The allegations follow earlier Netscape complaints that Microsoft was trying to prevent customers from using inexpensive Windows software with Netscape programs. Microsoft calls the allegations "wild and untrue." Justice won't comment.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

GREEN LIGHT FOR A HEALTH MEGADEAL

IT'S OFFICIAL: HOLDERS OF Blue Cross & Blue Shield Ohio policies have approved the sale of most of the insurer to Columbia/HCA Healthcare. The deal would merge the nation's biggest hospital chain with an insurer that covers 1.5 million people. Blue Cross has spent more than $500,000 on ads to promote the deal. But opponents have attacked the proposed payout to Blue Cross executives and one of their lawyers, which could reach $19 million, and questioned whether the sale will reduce competition. The transaction still is under review, and suits challenging parts of it are pending.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

A LOAD OF SUGAR TO PERK UP JAVA

SUN MICROSYSTEMS' RED-hot Java software is getting another big boost. On Aug. 21, venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers announced the creation of a $100 million fund aimed at financing 25 or so companies using Java and related technologies. Java helps create programs that can be sent over the Internet and run automatically. Investors include Sun, Netscape, Compaq, and IBM. Microsoft, though, still wary of Java's ability to run on all brands of computers, not just Windows PCs, declined to invest.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


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