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A Response from Ken Lipper


The central premise of your article "The fallen financier" (Cover Story, Dec. 9) is simply wrong and without basis in fact. There was no lack of vigilance or oversight at Lipper & Co. on my part or that of other senior management. We were actively involved in the firm's business on a daily basis.

Neither I nor any other member of senior management had knowledge of any issues regarding the valuations of the securities held by the convertible funds. The convertible funds were fully audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which had all the relevant information. No issue about pricing was ever raised by them. These issues came to light only after the portfolio manager abruptly left, and I immediately launched an internal review. When we found the valuation problem, we set about to correct it promptly and responsibly and to devise an appropriate course of action.

An independent investigation, which was conducted by the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, supports these facts. It concludes: "There is no evidence that senior management knew that [Executive Vice-President and Portfolio Manager Edward] Strafaci was improperly valuing the securities of the Lipper Convertible Funds prior to Strafaci's departure on 1/14/02."

For the past 10 months, Lipper & Co. has been totally focused on uncovering the nature of this problem and acting to rectify it to the greatest extent possible. We took great pains to wind down the positions in a way that maximized value for our investors without disrupting the markets. We were successful in those efforts. Under our proposed plan of distribution, the average investor would receive back 83% of his or her original investment.

Kenneth Lipper

Chairman & CEO

Lipper & Co.

New York

Editor's note: As noted in the story, Mr. Lipper declined numerous interview requests by BusinessWeek. The privilege of "stopping out" is almost entirely the provenance of women from wealthy households ("Mommy is really home from work," Working Life, Nov. 25). I have always known that many women have to return to work when their child is six weeks old, after their paid leave runs out. The next time I take a business trip, I hope my hotel room will not have just been cleaned by a woman who has a six-week-old child and is working inflexible hours to receive less than a living wage.

Maureen A. Scully

Boston

One of the backlash problems caused by female high achievers "stopping out" is the unpleasant ripple effect it has on those of us educated women who have chosen not to have children. I will probably be 60 years old before I can be in a corporate environment and not feel that management intuitively lumps me in the same category as 99% of working women, i.e., wondering at what point I'll jump ship to have a family.

Given their high dropout rate from corporate life because of family demands, women need to reassess their complaints about unequal pay and realize how equally unfair it is of them to expect corporations, which need employees who are focused and productive in these tough economic times, to bend at will to their discretionary leaves of absence.

Linda VanderVrede

Scottsdale, Ariz.

As for full-time motherhood being a step back for feminism, my view is that my successes have allowed me to "buy" myself the option--the luxury--to stay home and be the one to prepare my son for the world ahead of him. Feminism should be about having all options available so that we can pick and choose those that work best for us.

Anne Goodrich

Calistoga, Calif. I am the two-time survivor of breast cancer with whom Catherine Arnst ended the story "Cancer: The hope. The hype. The reality" (Special Report, Nov. 25). She wrote: "Colmore went through a brutal chemo regimen." While I can't say I enjoyed feeling exhausted and slightly nauseous for a couple of days after chemotherapy, I was able to go to work three days after chemo and, in general, I had a life during the treatment. With the effective and varied anti-nausea drugs used today, most of us can do chemo and pretty much keep up with our lives. The public is still traumatized by our parents' generation's experience of brutal chemotherapy.

Perry Colmore

Cambridge, Mass. "The UAW answers a cry for help" (Up Front, Nov. 18), regarding Chef Solutions Inc.'s North Haven (Conn.) facility, indicated that some female employees complained of sexual harassment at the facility. Please allow us to clarify the record. Chef Solutions has owned this facility for about two years. While complaints of sexual harassment have been filed with a state agency, many of these allegations were prior to our ownership. Even though the accused managers are no longer with the company, we are investigating the validity of the complaints and are working to resolve them.

Your readers should also know that employees at the plant voted against union representation. The company is working with the National Labor Relations Board to resolve union complaints about the vote. We respect all of our employees' rights under the law, including their right to decide upon representation.

Trish Beck

Senior Vice-President

for Human Resources

Chef Solutions Inc.

Schaumburg, Ill.


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