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"It would be wrong, erroneous, and a very dangerous thought. It would be very wrong...for anyone to make any judgment about the future of this investigation." -- Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, discounting suggestions that his upcoming departure could end the Whitewater probeEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

PEROT VS. HICKS: HIGH NOON IN BIG D

TWO HIGH-OCTANE TEXAS billionaires are fussing over how to build Dallas' new sports arena, stymieing the project. The squabble over replacing cramped Reunion Arena pits real estate developer Ross Perot Jr., majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and son of You Know Who, against financier Tom Hicks, proprietor of hockey's Dallas Stars.

Although both agree that building a basketball-hockey palace makes the most sense, each sometimes hints he will go it alone. (City-owned Reunion now hosts both teams.) The city government, which plans to share the costs of building the arena with the teams, wants a compromise.

Right now, though, they are far apart. Hicks has a more modest plan: build

a $180 million arena with pricey luxury boxes in just two years. The trouble is, since the National Hockey League doesn't have a national TV contract to subsidize the Stars, boxless Reunion is no bonanza for Hicks. And Perot, aided

by the NBA's juicy television contract, is in no hurry. Perot wants a $1 billion megacomplex, also featuring hotels, offices, condominiums, and shopping. And while Hicks seeks a 50-50 arena ownership split, Perot is pushing for 51% for himself.By Stephanie Anderson Forest EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

A DANGEROUS LIAISON IN BANKING

BANKERS TRUST CEO FRANK Newman was Deputy Treasury Secretary until September, 1995. So when he contacted Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig numerous times last year, he may have violated the government ethics law--which forbids ex-officials from contacting their former agencies on any official matter. The House banking subcommittee on oversight is investigating.

Newman, according to the panel, made five phone calls to the Comptroller, the Treasury's key regulator, between May and August, 1996. On May 13, they had breakfast before attending a controversial White House coffee with 16 other bankers and top Democratic fund-raisers--an event Newman helped organize. And he took the Ludwigs to Carnegie Hall for a Jose Carreras concert May 16.

Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus III (R-Ala.) wants to know if Newman solicited some of the $446,000 in bankers' donations the DNC got after the coffee; $75,000 of it came from BT. Newman declines to comment.

Ludwig says their talks were mainly social or on general banking topics. Last week, he repaid Newman $2,000 for the concert tickets. While Bankers Trust as a state-chartered bank isn't regulated by the Comptroller, he is a major voice in legislation potentially affecting BT.By Paula Dwyer EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

AN INSURER'S 3% SOLUTION

CONSECO CHAIRMAN STEPHEN Hilbert is getting a $12 million cash bonus for 1996, up from '95's $7.4 million. And the 1997 take will be even fatter: $24 million, according to a Salomon Brothers estimate that factors in expected profits from the expansion-minded insurer's recent acquisitions. Since 1983, when the board set the bonus formula, Hilbert has sliced off 3% of pretax net profits.

But these lush bonuses (atop a flat $250,000 yearly salary), which would make him among the best-compensated U.S. executives, draw fire from corporate-governance watchdogs. They believe Hilbert, who founded the company in 1979, owes his good fortune in part to a mom-and-pop board structure. Company officers have held five of its nine seats.

The board, if not his pay package, is changing. On Feb. 19, the company replaced an insider with an outsider, giving nonmanagement directors a 5-4 majority. Hilbert is unapologetic about his pay, noting that Conseco stock has soared 148% over the past year. He says: "It's the American way."By Greg Burns EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


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