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"The tobacco industry has conceded defeat, and we have a settlement of historic proportions." -- Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, referring to the $11.3 billion settlement his state won from five major tobacco companiesEDITED BY PAT WECHSLERReturn to top

NOTHING BUT NET AT APPLE

STEVE JOBS WASTED no time pruning Apple Computer's product line since taking control in early July. But the company's co-founder, insiders say, is also working on brand-new products that he hopes will play a major role in Apple's future growth: network computers.

Unlike personal computers, NCs store programs and data on a central server. They are designed to be less expensive than PCs, with the proposed Apple models to run between $500 to $1,000. While many doubt the Apple NC's potential in corporate markets, it could be perfect for cost-conscious educators anxious to comply with President Clinton's call for a 1:3 computer-student ratio by 2000. And NCs are also perfect for Apple, intent on protecting and even increasing its dominant 54% share of the K-through-12 market.

Company sources say the NCs will run programs based on the Java programming language--either on top of the MacOS found on today's Macs, or without a conventional operating system. Some of these devices could appear in early 1998.

But which Java standard will Apple adopt? While the company has worked with Java inventor Sun Microsystems for over a year, it's now working more closely with Microsoft to support its version.By Peter Burrows EDITED BY PAT WECHSLERReturn to top

ANOTHER BIG-OIL BONDING RITUAL?

DOES BIG OIL NEED TO GET bigger? That seems destined to become a hot question for federal regulators. Before the Federal Trade Commission has even completed its review of a proposed oil refining and marketing alliance between Shell Oil and Texaco, another seems to be in the works. Wall Street is buzzing about the prospect of a linkup between Amoco and Mobil. The idea: merge their U.S. refining and marketing businesses to create a powerhouse east of the Mississippi River. Together, the two hold about a 20% share of retail fuel markets in such densely populated states as Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida.

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette oil analyst John Hervey says he expects the two companies to make the joint-venture announcement "within weeks." Mobil confirms that it has had discussions with other companies, but claims nothing is imminent. Amoco declined comment. DLJ's Hervey is so confident that the coupling--which could produce $700 million in cost savings--is a fait accompli that he recently raised his Mobil recommendation to a "buy" from "market-peformer." So far, the consumer outcry has been limited. But Ed Rothschild of advocate group Citizen Action says the possibility of a second deal is "very disturbing."By Gary McWilliams EDITED BY PAT WECHSLERReturn to top

WHEN HEADHUNTERS CALL UNDERWRITERS

THIS SPRING, PRIVATELY HELD executive recruiter Lamalie Associates raised $24 million and more than a few eyebrows when it floated 2 million shares. And, more headhunter IPOs are on the way.

First on the list: DHR International, with $25 million in revenues. Founder and CEO David Hoffman expects to raise $20 million-plus with an IPO that won't happen before the end of the year.

Another company with stock market fever: Horton International, a $40 million firm specializing in emerging markets. President Robert Horton says the idea has been under discussion for more than a year, but claims an IPO is still two years off.

Finally, there's No.2-ranked Heidrick & Struggles. Industry insiders swear an IPO is looming. But vice-chairman John Thompson scoffs. "In professional-services firms, assets tend to walk in and out the door every day," he says.

And in fact, recruiters that have gone public have fared badly: Solomon-Page units rarely topped their $4 offering price since the 1994 IPO, and Korn/Ferry was forced to buy back its shares two years after its 1972 float. Lamalie is the exception, with its share price rising 50% since the IPO.By Lisa Sanders EDITED BY PAT WECHSLERReturn to top


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