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"I would not know what to apologize for, because we haven't wronged anyone." -- Volkswagen CEO Ferdinand Piech, in remarks that outraged General Motors, which accuses VW of industrial espionageEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

BEAN-COUNTERS HIT WALL STREET

COOPERS & LYBRAND IS branching out from number-crunching to the heady realm of investment banking. Coopers--which already has a consulting arm--just registered with the Securities & ExchangeCommissionto become a broker-dealer, too.

This inserts the firm into the booming (for now) world of Wall Street. However, Coopers spokesman David Nestor says the expansion is simply to better aid its clients, not to become a full-service securities house, la Merrill Lynch. Coopers will only sell private placements and furnish investment advice, such as identifying acquisition targets.

C&L is the second top accounting firm to push into

investment banking. But the first one's experience should serve as a cautionary tale. Take KPMG Peat Marwick's two-year-old strategic alliance with investment bank KPMG BayMark Capital, which was hired to locate overseas partners for software developer Communication Intelligence--also a Peat audit client. After the SEC raised questions about possible conflicts, Peat quit the accounting job and refunded a big loan to BayMark to restrict their financial ties. Peat had no comment. Coopers, however, says it will avoid those

problems.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Lisa SandersReturn to top

MAD COWS AND AMERICANS

THE U.S. FOOD & DRUG administration is gearing up to protect America from "mad cow disease" and may ban all animal remains in cattle feed. Feed made from sheep infected with the ovine ailment scrapie can transmit disease to cattle. So can feed from cattle parts.

In Britain, such feed led to a deadly epidemicofbo-vine spongiform encephalopathy among thousands of cattle, whose meat may be killing people, many experts fear. Already, 14 Brits have contracted a version of Creutzfeldt-Jakob--a brain-devouring disease eerily similar to BSE. More cases are suspected.

The feds find no evidence yet of mad cow disease in the U.S., although some American sheep have scrapie. In 1995, the meat industry squelched a proposed FDA sheep feed ban. After hearing scare stories from Britain, some industry groups say they would back a feed ban limited to brains and spinal cords, but oppose going beyond that.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By John CareyReturn to top

A DETROIT BIGWIG `OUTS' HIMSELF

A FORMER FORD Motor vice-chairman may be the most prominent corporate leader

to declare himself gay. Allan Gilmour, who retired from Ford in 1994 after 34 years, has caused a stir in Motown by his revelation to a local gay publication. Gilmour "came out" so he could discuss the need for more philanthropy from gays and lesbians for gay-oriented charities. He has even started his own such trust.

Gilmour, 62, says he backs activists' efforts to push the Big Three to provide benefits to workers' same-sex partners. And he wants them to understand the worth of gay employees. "It's not a question of representation but of attracting the best people," he says.

He doubts his long-rumored homosexuality cost him the CEO job, which Alex Trotman got in 1993. "If Ford wanted to slow me down because of this, they could have done it long before," says Gilmour, who has served as CFO and international auto operations head. Ford won't comment. Does Gilmour expect his candor to prompt other gay execs to speak out? "Possibly, but I did this" after retiring, he says.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Bill VlasicReturn to top


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