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"He was doing his best to break the Japanese hold on the lysine market."---Reid Weingarten, lawyer for Terrance Wilson,one of two indicted former Archer Daniels Midland execs. They claim ADM didn't fix prices with the JapaneseEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

A FALSE ALARM ON SURPRISE TAXES

AS THE DOW HAS SOARED, stock mutual-fund investors have gotten nervous about ungodly tax bills from unusually large yearend capital-gains distributions. Fear not. The typical fund owner's taxable capital gain should be significantly lower than in 1995.

There has been a lot of buzz to suggest fat gains (hence, fat tax bills) are on the way. Many funds have notified investors to watch out for sizable distributions--the proceeds from a fund's trading profits. CGM Mutual Fund, for instance, recently pegged its one at $2.89 per share, more than triple last year's.

But the overall picture is less rosy. Based on figures from the Investment Company Institute trade group, BUSINESS WEEK estimates that the net realized capital gains by all equity funds through 1996's first 11 months were $32 billion. In 1995, however, gains totaled a record $54.6 billion.

Why the 1996 drop? Mainly, a less spectacular bull market. In '95, stock mutual funds rose nearly 30% on average. For 1996 through last month, funds were up 18%. This year's rally has been concentrated in large-cap stocks. Mutual funds tend to be heavily into smaller-cap issues.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Owen Ullmann and Jeffrey M. LadermanReturn to top

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GM'S TOP BLACK EXEC FINALLY JOINS THE CLUB

ROY ROBERTS, GENERAL Motors' top-ranking African American, finally has made it into the posh Bloomfield Hills Country Club outside Detroit. The club snubbed him when he first applied in 1994. But its super-secret admissions committee gave GM Veep Roberts the O.K. on Dec. 3, according to people close to the club.

There was plenty of pressure on Bloomfield Hills. After Roberts' 1994 rejection, GM Chairman Jack Smith and CFO Michael Losh quit in protest. Now, Smith is likely to return, say the club sources. Roberts' admission also averts the exodus of other Detroit big shots that was expected if he had been twice denied.

Club leaders encouraged Roberts, who declined to comment, to reapply. The club also plans, the sources say, to induct a bank executive who would be the club's third black member. GM, which angered some members by assuming it could push through Roberts on his first try, didn't take any chances on Round 2. Two blue-chip members--Penske Transportation CEO Roger Penske and senior GM exec J.T. Battenberg III--sponsored Roberts. Backers orchestrated get-acquainted cocktail parties and encouraged friends to write recommendation letters.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Kathleen Kerwin and Keith NaughtonReturn to top

FORD BUYS A USED-CAR CONCEPT

FORD MOTOR IS GIVING IN to the used-car superstore phenomenon. The company, which like its crosstown rivals previously shunned the trend, will soon announce plans to provide big-time capital to Driver's Mart Worldwide. A year ago, Chrysler awarded a new-car franchise to a CarMax outlet in Atlanta, outraging traditional dealers who compete with these superstore chains.

The latest deal shouldn't rile Ford dealers because Driver's Mart is the creation of 21 megadealers, some of them Ford franchisees. And Driver's Mart, which plans to open 25 stores by 1998, was formed to tackle the rise of publicly held outfits such as Circuit City's CarMax.

Plus, Driver's Mart should be a good business opportunity for Ford, say industry experts. Ford's PRIMUS financing unit will offer up to $250 million in construction and inventory loans to Driver's Mart dealers and will provide as much as $150 million yearly for customer leasing deals. By backing Driver's Mart, Ford, which wouldn't comment, is signaling that superstores are here to stay.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Bill Vlasic and David GreisingReturn to top


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