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"Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia, on July 20, 1993."

---Report by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, on the death of White House aide Vincent FosterEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


THE BANKING BIZ HAS MADE big buys on Wall Street recently, but some may not be as pricey as they seem--if a partnership is acquired. The big plus: Buyers can deduct the purchase price of a partnership on their taxes over 15 years, according to Lehman Brothers.

Take NationsBank's $1.2 billion purchase of Montgomery Securities, a San Francisco partnership. Lehman's tax expert, Robert Willens, figures that NationsBank will pick up $300 million in tax write-offs. And when Bank of America, in a deal structured a bit differently, bought Robertson Stephens for $540 million, it nailed down $295 million in deductions. In part, Bank of America is treating the buyout money it pays Stephens' partners as a tax-deductible business expense.

The little-known tax break that NationsBank is using, created by Congress in 1993, shows how Washington favors partnerships by making mergers with them attractive. (It also taxes their profits more lightly than corporate dividends. Still, most securities firms are corporations, whose edge is that they can raise capital more easily.)

The tax-savings feature could boost buyouts of partnerships, says independent analyst Perrin Long. Some of Wall Street's best-known names are partnerships. Do Goldman Sachs, Alliance Capital, or Cantor Fitzgerald have a suitor in their future? Mum's their word.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


THIS YEAR'S TAX BILL, NOW IN heavy negotiations between Congress and the White House, has the usual crop of special-interest plums. Among the wackier items:

Frequent Jumper Fares: A few years ago, the Internal Revenue Service declared that skydivers were airline passengers and thus subject to a 10% ticket tax--about $1.60 per jump. Skydivers pointed out that they should pay half that because their flights aren't round-trip. So the Senate wants to charge them only the tax for the aircraft fuel used, which is generally a lower bite.

Fat chance: Native Alaskan whaling captains traditionally throw a big wingding after a hunt in which the blubber gets divided among the tribe. A Senate provision would give captains a $7,500 write-off for outfitting their crews and for throwing the party.

This Bud's fur sich: Both chambers of Congress want to encourage U.S. beer consumption at Embassy Row functions by making the brew purchases tax-free to foreign diplomats. The $18-per-barrel excise tax amounts to about 5.5 cents a can. But it's hard to imagine German beer chauvinists swilling Pabst Blue Ribbon.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT Roy FurchgottReturn to top


JACK NICKLAUS HAS BEEN A better golfer than businessman. His company, Golden Bear Golf, is down 29% from its offering price of 16 when it went public last August. The company, which operates practice centers and markets golfing gear, lost 60 cents per share last year and 29 cents in 1997's first quarter. Golden Bear mainly blames its slump on the 11 properties it bought in 1996, which have taken longer and cost more to revamp than projected.

The 57-year-old golf legend, who owns 55% of Golden Bear, is unveiling a marketing plan to help him get out of the rough. A former American Express pitchman, he'll soon be seen in ads pushing a special Nicklaus Visa card that lets you enter a monthly sweepstakes. Grand prize? A round of golf with Nicklaus himself. Cardholders who shell out a $35 annual fee can join an affinity program that awards one point on every dollar charged. Enough points get you golf lessons or clubs.

Merrill Lynch analyst Hayley Kissell doubts such alliances will have much impact on the bottom line. What else do you have in your bag, Jack?EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT Lisa SandersReturn to top

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