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Tom Hicks: Don't Touch That Dial

In Business This Week: Headliner

Tom Hicks: Don't Touch That Dial

Tom Hicks is changing his program. The buyout investor is ditching a yearlong plan to morph Dallas radio operator Chancellor Media into a multimedia giant. The Texas billionaire, chairman of both Chancellor and Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, says he's bowing to pressure from investors who want him to stick to basics. On Mar. 15, Hicks said Chancellor will focus on its core radio and billboards. And it will do so without CEO Jeffrey Marcus, who is quitting after only 9 months on the job.

Chancellor will undergo a major restructuring that includes ending a $1.5 billion merger deal with LIN Television, cutting debt, and installing Hicks as CEO. But Hicks, 53, who during his high school days was a DJ at one of his father's stations, has lost none of his yen for the radio business. Hicks Muse, he says, plans to spend up to $500 million to raise the company's stake to around 29%. Says Hicks: "Nothing means more to me, personally and professionally, than enabling Chancellor to realize its tremendous potential." Stay tuned.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

Paul Allen's Cable Dreams, Continued

PAUL ALLEN'S VISION OF THE WIRED WORLD seems to exist mainly on coaxial cable--the kind used for TV. The Microsoft co-founder and technology investor has spent $4 billion this year to buy six cable operators--in addition to his $7.3 billion purchase of two major cable companies in 1998. On Mar. 15, Allen said he was making a $300 million investment in Internet portal Go2Net. The idea is to provide customers with Go2Net's E-commerce, finance, and game and search technologies over his cable systems. Now, Allen is considering an initial public offering later this year of Charter Communications Group, his cable holding company. The proceeds would be used to further Allen's dream of providing Internet services via his own cable pipeline.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

The SEC Mulls New Disclosure Rules

LOOSE LIPS...CEOs MAY NEED TO KEEP CLOSER TABS ON WHAT THEY TELL ANALYSTS. The SEC is reviewing rules on disclosure of corporate information. The study, expected to take up to a year, could result in rules requiring companies to put out press releases prior to analyst meetings or conference calls. SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. has voiced concerns about selective disclosure since last May, but recent cases--including a 16% drop in Compaq's stock in early March after execs told institutional investors that PC sales were slowing--highlighted the issue.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

A Boston Banking Behemoth Is Born

HOW BIG IS BIG ENOUGH IN BANKING? It's a question raised by the Mar. 15 news that Fleet Financial Group would buy BankBoston in a $16 billion deal. Fleet Boston would boast about $180 billion in assets, the Quick & Reilly brokerage, the BancBoston Robertson Stephens investment bank, and branches from Bangor to Buenos Aires. So great would be the new bank's hold on New England that Fleet is offering to unload $13 billion in deposits to satisfy antitrust concerns. Still, analysts wonder whether Fleet will expand further--or sell out to an even bigger financial concern.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

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