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"I'm not a fashion consultant" -- Feminist author Naomi Wolf to ABC News, clarifying her role in Al Gore's Presidential campaignEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

The Haves and Have-Nots at UPS

It's the biggest initial public offering ever. But will it deliver for the employees who make the deliveries?

United Parcel Service sold about 10% of itself to the public on Nov. 10 at $50 a share. That was great news for Chairman James Kelly, whose 207,000 shares were worth $14 million when the stock closed at 68 that same day. Top management holds less than 1% of the 1.2 billion outstanding shares, while 40,000 or so managers, partially paid with options and free shares, own 30%. About one-quarter of UPS's 290,000 hourly workers are shareholders, too.

Sounds good. But privately, UPS acknowledges that drivers and package sorters will end up with only a small stake in UPS, totalling about 5.5%. Who owns the other shares? Foundations and the founders' heirs control 30%, and retirees 25%. The hourlies' stakes now average $68,000. That average, though, includes 2,100 pilots, paid hourly, but earning a lot more than the average $13 per hour that a sorter gets, and thus able to buy more stock. So most of the rank and file with shares will end up with far less than $68,000. UPS's IPO is a special delivery. But only for those workers who already own stock.By David Rocks; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Hong Kong Plays a Numbers Game

In Hong Kong, they take their superstitions seriously. Especially when billions of dollars are at stake. So, as Hong Kong starts unloading some of the stock it bought in 1998 to head off a crash, the numbers surrounding the sale seem suspiciously lucky.

The government is offering HK$33.3 billion ($4.3 billion U.S.) of stock in Hong Kong companies. The numeral 3 in the Cantonese dialect sounds like the word for life. Shares worth HK$9.99 billion ($1.3 billion U.S.) are reserved for institutions; 9 connotes longevity. Local buyers get the remaining HK$23.3 billion ($3 billion). The numerals 233 suggest "easy to live." The stock is packaged in fund shares, with each unit priced at HK$12.88, which sounds like "easy to prosper." And trading starts on Nov. 12, a good day to exercise authority, says Steven Post, CEO of the Geomancy/Feng Shui Education Organization in San Francisco.

So did Hong Kong authorities plan it all this way? Just a coincidence, they say. Adds a banker involved in the offering, "Superstition is never the basis for pricing a capital markets transaction." Still, the offering was oversubscribed. By a factor of three. Go figure.By Susan Berfield; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Up against the Wall, Companies!

Despite the eagerness of some college students to become Internet millionaires or earn MBAs, others are more concerned with reforming corporations than joining them. The Student Alliance to Reform Corporations, a six-month-old national coalition aimed at improving Corporate America, has targeted nine companies for their alleged "egregious" corporate misbehavior at its initial national meeting at Yale University.

McDonald's was criticized for animal-rights abuses, Wal-Mart Stores for an insufficiently diverse workforce, Dow Chemical for questionable environmental practices, and Smith Barney for discrimination against women. Chevron and Shell Oil were condemned for human-rights abuses in Nigeria, Occidental Petroleum for desecrating ancestral lands in Colombia, and Walt Disney for poor labor conditions at licensees' Chinese factories. Some Monsanto genetically altered products also drew fire.

Disney says it's working to correct abuses. Shell and Chevron claim to respect and protect human rights in Nigeria. Occidental says the issues have been resolved. And Wal-Mart says 42% of its managers are minorities or women. But the students say that they will keep an eye on companies they call bad corporate citizens.By Diane Brady; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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