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"He said it was a transition year and don't expect a lot."

--Sunbeam board member Charles Elson, who made the motion to dismiss Chief Executive Albert DunlapEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

POINTCAST: A PRIVATE WISH NOT TO GO PUBLIC?

SURPRISE! JUST A MONTH after filing for an initial public offering, onetime Internet hotshot PointCast may not go public after all. According to sources familiar with the situation, the Sunnyvale (Calif.) company is searching for a buyer.

PointCast declined comment, but sources say it is being shopped around to major media companies. Why? "Fifty percent of the reason for filing was to raise the visibility of the company to potential acquirers," says one source. "PointCast's assets aren't maximized by being a stand-alone." It could be a good buy given its deals with key content-providers and its corporate following.

PointCast used to be a Silicon Valley darling. But its "push" technology--which automatically delivers news and other information to PC screens--has struggled to attract users amid more competition and criticism that it slows computer networks. And like many Internet companies, PointCast isn't profitable.

What is more, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, a marquee name in technology banking, had been PointCast's banker, and the white-shoe firm was widely expected to take the six-year-old company public. Now, however, PointCast is being advised by Lehman Brothers, considered less knowledgeable than Morgan Stanley about tech.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

ONE BIG, UNHAPPY FAMILY AT UNITED

IS THE MANAGEMENT OF UNITED AIRLINES, the country's largest union-controlled company, secretly against unions? That's what International Association of Machinists President R. Thomas Buffenbarger charges in a blistering June 2 letter to Gerald Greenwald. Greenwald, who calls the charges unfair, was picked as CEO by UAL's unions in a 1994 buyout that gave employees 55% of the company.

The machinists are fired up about a 27-page handbook the company distributed recently to managers telling them how to handle an IAM drive to sign up 19,000 reservation and ticket agents. The book lists 13 anti-union talking points under the heading: "Why Not a Union?" Because United had pledged neutrality about the vote, Buffenbarger is furious. "It's reprehensible," he says.

United disagrees, saying the handbook emphasizes its "positive relationship" with its unions. "My reading of the total document leaves me with a very different impression than your letter's," Greenwald says in a June 12 response to Buffenbarger. Employees have begun voting, and the results are due in mid-July. An IAM victory would be the largest unionization of a private business in the U.S. since 1984.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

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WHY THE ASIAN FLU MAY NOT BUG BOEING

SOMETIMES, THERE IS NOTHING like a good old-fashioned recession to help out a company. Boeing's 20-year Current Market Outlook, issued on June 18, forecasts that Asian economic turmoil will delay purchase of 150 jets from the world's aircraft makers during the next three years. That translates to as much as $15 billion in missing revenue. And more than half the lost sales would have been Boeing's.

But for the Seattle planemaker, there's an unexpected silver lining in the shrinking economies of the Pacific Rim. Boeing is already struggling to build about 1,500 planes in its backlog. That effort so far has cost it $2 billion in charges due to parts shortages and late deliveries. So deferrals from Asian carriers will give it some breathing room and extend its production boom into the first decade of the 21st century, says Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Pierre Chao.

Boeing expects the Pacific Rim to bounce back by 2002. Asian orders may then come in just as business from European and U.S. carriers wanes. Boeing figures Asian carriers will buy $427 billion worth of aircraft over the next 20 years. That's serious silver.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top


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