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"Hello Old Friend, I hope it is possible that you will be my guest for a ski holiday this year."---Postcard that CIA officer Harold Nicholson, accused of spying, allegedly sent to his Russian contactEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

COMING SOON: AIR PRITZKER

THE SUPER-RICH PRITZKER family of Chicago is getting into the $5 billion corporate- jet biz. They say they're starting a joint venture with state-owned Israel Aviation Industries (IAI) to develop a plane for the red-hot, but highly competitive, midsize business jet market.

The Princeton (N.J.) venture, Galaxy Aerospace, hopes to have its first model, a $14.5 million jet seating up to 19, out within two years. Advantage: It's priced as much as $1 million below rival craft, such as the Cessna Citation, and has a wider body. Already, the partners have lured a corporate jet veteran, Learjet's ex-CEO Brian Barents, to run Galaxy.

Loss-plagued IAI's business jets are widely respected for their technology, but they need marketing clout and capital. The Pritzkers aim to expand sales and service centers in the U.S. So far, IAI has invested $100 million; the Pritzkers, $50 million, with more to come. The Israeli company will build the wings. U.S. suppliers will provide 70% of the plane, including the engines.

The Pritzkers, best known for their Hyatt Hotels, have some aerospace background. They briefly owned Braniff Airlines in the mid-1980s, and Jay Pritzker was a Navy pilot in the 1940s.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Richard A. Melcher and Neal SandlerReturn to top

CAN FRUIT GIVE STOLI A KICK?

STOLI WANTS TO BECOME THE toast of the town with new flavored vodkas. Importer Michel Roux thinks he can do it. He helped make Absolut the No.1 vodka with clever ads--such as an aerial photo of Manhattan with Central Park shaped like an Absolut bottle. But in 1994, Seagram dislodged Roux's Carillon Importers as Swedish Absolut's U.S. distributor.

The Absolut ads live on, yet Roux, 56, has hooked up with Stolichnaya. He pushed the Russians to debut six flavors, especially fruit, which he has just unveiled in America. Although plain vodka sales are flat, flavors will reach double digits in 1996, says M. Shanken Associates, a research firm.

At 3 million cases yearly, Absolut outsells Stoli 3 to 1. Absolut, which won't comment, has flavors, too. Roux, though, is placing a bigger emphasis on them for Stoli. Nearly one-third of his $18 million ad campaign focuses on flavors: "In two or three years, we'll be close to Absolut." Many industry experts are skeptical. Tom Pirko of Bevmark says Stoli's ads lack the Absolut ads' panache.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Lisa SandersReturn to top

THE ASTRA SCANDAL HAS LEGS

LARS BILDMAN was ousted asAstraUSA's chief in June, amid allegations of widespread sexual harassment at the drug company. His adventures since have been getting curiouser and curiouser. The soap-opera-like tale picks up with a former Astra saleswoman, Jennifer Shore, one of several ex-employees who are suing Astra and Bildman for emotional distress, among other things. On Nov. 8, she filed in court for a restraining order against her ex-boss, complaining that Bildman had been hounding her for weeks and dangling hints of big financial rewards if she dropped her suit.

Three days later, who should turn up at Bildman's side in Stockholm but--you guessed it--Shore. Bildman gave media interviews (in Swedish, which Shore's lawyer says she doesn't speak) contending she would recant her accusations. The next day in Boston, Shore's attorney told reporters Bildman had lured Shore to Sweden by threatening suicide. Next, a Swedish TV reporter told newspapers there that she helped Shore leave a Stockholm apartment, where Shore said Bildman had held her against her will. Bildman disputed both stories, telling reporters Shore came to Stockholm seeking a half-million dollars and left when he wouldn't pay.

Then, at a Nov. 19 court hearing, the lawyers for Shore and Bildman pledged their clients wouldn't contact each other, making a restraining order request moot. Shore's lawyer told a judge she had checked into a hospital for psychiatric treatment.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Mark MaremontReturn to top


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