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"I'd also like to fish, read books, and play tennis, but life is a trade-off" -- Former Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin, on joining CitigroupEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

A Really Simple Plan

Time Warner's People Magazine Group has done well chronicling a celebrity lifestyle that most people will never afford. But now the people at People are planning a monthly that promises to give its mostly female readers tips on living a simpler life: Everything from arranging flowers to arranging one's will. Its publishers even promise it will have no celebrity covers. The magazine's name: Real Simple.

The magazine is being launched next March by the same folks who have helped drive celebrity journalism with People, InStyle, Teen People, and People en Espanol. "I already dish up enough celebrity coverage," laughs People Group President Ann Moore. Her efforts are backed by Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin, who calls the group "the most exciting part of the company."

Initial circulation is planned at 400,000 copies. Moore hopes it will climb to 1 million in four years. The closely guarded Real Simple prototype features only a bouquet of flowers on its cover. Is that enough to appeal to readers? Even if it isn't, editors are sure to find it easier to deal with a florist than a movie star's demanding handlers.By Richard Siklos; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Such Acrimony over Acronyms

A battle--for three letters of the alphabet--is brewing between Merrill Lynch and the Institute of Management Accountants, a national group that certifies and educates corporate financial professionals. The IMA says Merrill is making unauthorized use of its CFM, or certified financial manager, designation, and is threatening to sue Merrill.

The IMA mandates continuing education and testing for members to become a CFM. So when the IMA heard that Merrill was internally using the same initials the financial group had registered as a trademark in 1996, it was furious. Executive Director Richard Swanson says Merrill told IMA that it would not drop its own CFM. "We aren't going to be bullied," says Swanson, who wants exclusive use of the title. Merrill says it has publicly used the CFM designation since 1982. It declined to comment on a possible lawsuit.

The feisty IMA has already warned the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which grants a CFP, against using the CFM as a low-level certification for financial planners. The CFPs say they never planned to. So now IMA's CFMs are battling Merrill's CFMs, but not the CFPs. Got it?By Roy Furchgott; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

More Temp Trouble at Microsoft

For years, it turns out, Microsoft has been keeping secret personnel files on its 6,000-odd contract employees. That includes the 2,000 or so "permatemps"--contract workers who were hired through outside agencies and have worked at the software giant for a year or more.

The files, unearthed by a fledgling Microsoft union called the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, contain manager's ratings on 16,000 temps who have worked at the company since 1994. In copies shown to BUSINESS WEEK, managers write sometimes pointed comments. They also rate each temp as "eligible" for future employment with the company, or as "ineligible," "eligible with feedback," "eligible with serious feedback."

The files could land the Redmond (Wash.) company in hot water. Washington state law requires employers to give employees access to their personnel files. Microsoft spokesman Dan Leach says the contract workers' agencies deal with personnel questions. The files are simply "customer feedback," he says. The permatemps may use a recent federal appeals court ruling that Microsoft is their co-employer to gain access to their files.By Aaron Bernstein; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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