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"I wouldn't dream of asking Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton to forgive me" -- Monica Lewinsky, interviewed on ABC's 20/20EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

A Gusher from Valdez Funds?

NEARLY A DECADE HAS passed since the Exxon Valdez ran ashore in Alaska, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. But the 40,000 people expected to share $5.3 billion in punitive damages have yet to see a cent.

Moreover, a lengthy appeals process may enable Exxon to earn back that money, argues plaintiffs' attorney Brian O'Neill. How so? For one, the settlement funds are not in escrow but available to Exxon through a $6.75 billion line of credit. The company's publicly stated return on average capital employed ranged from 11.2% to 16.5% since 1994. So, using the lower figure, between 1996, when the verdict was upheld, and yearend 2000, Exxon could turn $5.3 billion into $8.1 billion. Even with the 5.9% court-mandated interest accruing during appeals, that tops the judgement by $1 billion.

Exxon says those computations are irrelevant. Meanwhile, some plaintiffs are lobbying Congress to block the Exxon-Mobil merger until Exxon pays up. The company calls the punitive damage award "unjust and excessive," adding that the merger and the damages are unrelated.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

Dole Yells Interference

WHEN HE'S NOT DISHING OUT straight talk on erectile dysfunction, former GOP standard-bearer Bob Dole is pitching the economic wonders of pigskin.

In a Feb. 23 letter to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Dole says that the league is hurting Washington, D.C.'s long-term business outlook by delaying the controversial $800 million bid to buy the Redskins. Hampering the deal, he continues, will send a bad signal about doing business in the capital and hurt attempts to lure big-time events like the 2012 Olympics. The offer to buy the team from the estate of Jack Kent Cooke comes from New York developer Howard Milstein and Maryland businessman Daniel Snyder. But some NFL team owners, who must approve the sale, prefer selling to Cooke's son, though he offered less money.

Wrote Dole: "You, as a longtime Washingtonian, are more mindful of the importance that the Redskins have to the commerce and sense of well-being of this community." The letter is part of Dole's new job as president of the Federal City Council, a high-powered business group that includes media bigwigs Austin Kiplinger and Donald Graham--a team that's used to winning.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

The Variety of Wall Street

WALL STREET MAVEN BRUCE WASSERSTEIN knows a thing or two about deals--he has even written a book called Big Deal. Now, American Lawyer Media, which his investment firm, Wasserstein Perella, bought for $70 million in 1997 from Time Warner, plans to publish a daily newspaper chronicling the mergers-and-acquisitions trade.

The working title of the tabloid, due to hit newsstands in June, is The Deal. It will be run by former Institutional Investor editor Robert Teitelman. William Pollak, chief executive of American Lawyer Media, says the idea for the paper came straight from Wasserstein, and it is aimed at the "35-, 40-, 50,000 folks who wake up every morning worrying about deals." The new paper, which has not yet set subscriber or ad rates, will pore over the constant stream of smaller M&A deals, hoping to fill a niche in the same way Variety does for show business.

Pollak says The Deal is an example of his company's strategy to triple its size in a few years by expanding beyond its core legal audience to serve other professionals who "work with lawyers," too. Sounds like a pretty big niche.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

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