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"We sincerely apologize to the drivers of our cars" -- Katsuhiko Kawasoe, president of Mitsubishi Motors, which has admitted to covering up thousands of defects in autosEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Virtual Campus, Real Stock

This fall, while students at the virtual campus of the University of Phoenix are striving for top marks, investors could be watching to see if the school itself makes the grade.

Apollo Group, for-profit parent of the school, has filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission to issue a tracking stock for its University of Phoenix Online (UOPX), a first for an online school. The initial public offering could raise $80 million. Although small, analysts call the IPO a sign of strength in the higher-education e-learning market, where $7 billion in sales is forecast by 2003.

Yet tracking stocks have performed poorly in recent months, as companies such as Ziff-Davis, Walt Disney, and General Electric have seen. Still, Apollo officials are optimistic. The online school accounted for 16% of Apollo's $445 million in revenues in the first three quarters of fiscal 2000, and its enrollment of 13,800 has grown far faster than the brick-and-ivy university. "They want to find a way to break out that identity, so investors can value that piece of the university," says Trace Urdan, an analyst at WR Hambrecht. Apollo shareholders vote on the proposal on Aug. 29.By Eric Dash; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

The Lady Is a Tanker

First it was the millions in oil-company contributions. Then came the naming of Dick Cheney, top dog at oil-patch operator Halliburton, as his running mate. Now it's George W. Bush's foreign-policy counselor and prospective National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who not only has her own oil-industry connections as a longtime director of San Francisco's Chevron but even has an oil tanker named in her honor.

It's yet another example of how connections between Big Oil and the GOP somehow keep turning up. While a tanker sporting the name of a potential top-level official might raise eyebrows, wouldn't even a minor spill tarnish the names of Rice and her would-be boss? A Chevron spokesman says that the company has "an excellent record" on avoiding spills and that Rice's lending her name to a tanker is "a vote of confidence" in the fleet.

A Bush campaign spokeswoman says only that questions about the implications of the tanker's name are "very hypothetical." Chevron, however, has also named tankers after director Carla Hills and former director George Shultz, both past GOP advisers. Rice didn't return a call for comment. But the ex-provost at Stanford once told a publication there that "when your name is on a tanker, no news is good news."By Louise Lee; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

There's Life after Larry Ellison

Ray Lane, ex-president of software giant Oracle, didn't wait long to land a new job. After eight roller-coaster years as sidekick to flamboyant Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Lane quit in frustration in July. Now, he has resurfaced at the Silicon Valley venture capital shop Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Lane, who helped rebuild Oracle after it nearly collapsed in the early 1990s, resigned after Ellison, hellbent on personally making Oracle into an e-business, snatched away many of his duties. "The relationship with Larry changed," says Lane, 53. "Now, he's running everything." Lane is hardly bitter, though. He left Oracle with shares worth $1 billion. Lane was set to formally announce his new gig on Aug. 24.

Kleiner Perkins, with its tradition of backing pioneers such as Amazon.com, is known for keeping a tight rein over its startups. Lane, in fact, sees himself as an adviser first, though he also will be an investor. His goal: to line up B2B startups in alliances with America's industrial giants, many of which use Oracle software. "You get those small companies into the big supply chains. Then it's game over," says Lane. He is his own man now--and for him, a new game is just beginning.By Steve Hamm; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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