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Financier told: Hands off Arby's, RC Cola

Tampa Bay / State

A federal judge in Cleveland has suspended financier Victor Posner from control of his holdings, which include Arby's and Royal Crown Cola, while auditors determine whether the company was plundered.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Lambros said Friday the intervention was needed to keep the Miami Beach financier from draining assets from DWG Corp. Posner pleaded no contest to income tax evasion in 1987. He was placed on five years' probation and ordered to contribute $3-million and 5,000 hours to helping the homeless.

AUSTRALIAN CONNECTION. Communications Equity Associates Inc. of Tampa was retained by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. as an adviser for the award of a nationwide license to offer pay-television services. The Australian government plans to issue the licenses in September. Communications Equity Associates provides investment banking and brokerage services to the communications and entertainment industries worldwide.

Nation

TENTATIVE MILKEN SETTLEMENT. The principal parties in the hundreds of lawsuits filed against jailed junk-bond financier Michael Milken reportedly reached a tentative $1.3-billion settlement, Federal District Judge Milton Pollack confirmed Monday. Among the cases that would be settled is Drexel Burnham Lambert's lawsuit accusing Milken of illegal transactions that caused the firm's collapse; a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. lawsuit blaming Milken for ruinous junk bond losses sustained by savings and loans; and lawsuits filed by companies and investors over junk-bond losses. Of the $1.3-billion, Milken would pay $500-million, former colleagues at Drexel would pay $300-million, Drexel insurers would pay $100-million and an additional $400-million would come from a restitution fund administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Times reported Monday, citing unidentified sources.

ASBESTOS TRIAL TO START. The biggest asbestos injury trial in the country is scheduled to begin in a Baltimore courtroom today as 8,560 plaintiffs seek damages from 14 companies. The plaintiffs claim the asbestos they worked near gave them cancer and other lung diseases. They contend the companies that manufactured the substance knew it was dangerous. The trial is designed to resolve major, common issues. Smaller trials later will decide damages for individual plaintiffs. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Marshall Levin expects the trial to take four months.

SOUNDS BETTER. Sony Corp. said Monday it is developing a digital sound format for movies that would bring compact-disc-quality audio to theaters. Alhough movie sound tracks have been improved in recent years with stereo and surround sound, the optically-based technology dates to the 1920s. The Japanese company said it is working with its Sony Pictures Entertainment unit, which includes Columbia Pictures, to develop a digital alternative to this analog-based recording technology. Digital sound is recorded in distortion-free computer language, unlike analog, which can introduce hissing and other distortions.

CLIOS GET ANOTHER CHANCE. A revamped Clio advertising awards show will be Sept. 14, more than a year after the 1991 presentation collapsed in chaos. Ruth Ratny, a magazine publisher who acquired the rights to the show last September, said awards for print, radio and television ads would be given out at one time. Last June, the presentation of Clios for radio and print ads ended in an uproar when a food caterer recruited at the last minute to present the awards ran out of winners' names before all the statuettes were distributed. That prompted a dash to the stage area by advertising executives who grabbed the remaining statues and bolted out the door. The awards show for TV Clios was canceled when longtime Clio owner Bill Evans failed to post a deposit for the hall.

IN THE JOURNAL? What national newspaper is giving its readers a quick daily summary of Olympic results, a listing of events TV will be covering and a trivia feature under the heading "Games Stats?" It's The Wall Street Journal. For the first time in more than a century of publishing, the newspaper has a sports page. The page will disappear after the Winter Olympics, but is scheduled to make a comeback in July and August during the Summer Olympics.

Earnings

WENDY'S. Wendy's International Inc. said Monday its profit rose 40 percent in the fourth quarter and 31 percent for all of 1991 as sales hit records at the fast-food chain. For the quarter ended Dec. 29, Wendy's said it earned $10.9-million, or 11 cents a share, up from $7.8-million, or 8 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales totaled $270-million, up from $250-million a year earlier. For the year, Wendy's earned $51.3-million, or 52 cents a share, up from $39.3-million, or 41 cents a share, in 1990. Sales for the year totaled $1.06-billion, up from $1.01-billion.

Correction

The Suncoast chapter of the International Association of Hospitality Accountants will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Omni Hotel, 700 N West Shore Blvd. in Tampa. For reservations and information on the meeting, call Carolyn Glaser, 877-6688, Ext. 1511, or Linda Anderson, 289-8200, Ext. 7202. The reservation deadline is 4 p.m. today. An incorrect date was listed in the Monday Business calendar.

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