Sunday, March 28, 1999

TIPSHEET


Rumors of P&G buyout hype Revlon

        Rumblings about Procter & Gamble Co. buying other companies are commonplace. Just ask the people in its corporate communications office stuck giving no comments. But one rumor raised some eyebrows this week because of who was doing the rumoring.

        Speculation that billionaire Ronald Perelman would sell Revlon Inc. sent the cosmetic stock soaring 29 percent in the middle of last week. “We believe someone's interested (in buying Revlon) because the stock has been undervalued,” analyst Tim Drake of Banc One Corp., Revlon's fifth-largest investor, told Bloomberg News.

        Retail guru Kurt Barnard, consultant and president of Barnard's Retail Trend Report, weighed in with this comment: “I believe P&G is the front-runner. These companies are hoping to improve their profitability and save money by linking arms.”

        Folks at Cincinnati's consumer-products giant, which already owns Max Factor, of course declined to comment.

        — Amy Higgins

Canadian Mr. Clean 40

        Next time you're oot-an-aboot in Canada, wish Mr. Clean a happy 40th birthday, eh? The Procter & Gamble Co. character — famous for his bald head, gold earring, white outfit and twinkle in his eye — made his Canadian debut in print and television ads in 1959.

        P&G will celebrate the big guy's North-of-the-Border birthday by releasing the results of an Angus Reid survey it sponsored on Canadian cleaning habits, in honor of Mr. Clean's 40th.

        The Cincinnati-based company also will send Mr. Clean lookalikes on tour throughout Canada this spring. Last year, a nationwide search was held to find a Mr. Clean Team, eh, and the nine-member team will make special appearances in stores and communities.

        — Amy Higgins

        Hotel mired in disputes

        That feisty bunch of unpaid Texas building trades firms are continuing their battle with the historic Driskill Hotel, an Austin, Texas, landmark owned by Cincinnati's Great American Insurance Co.

        In the latest wrinkle, general contractor Rick Roberts, who was forced off the job in September, filed suit earlier this month in Travis County District Court seeking more than $300,000 that he says the hotel owes for remodeling work.

        He's one of more than half a dozen building trades and contractors who've filed liens against the 112-year-old hotel for unpaid remodeling work. The contractors, who have resorted to picketing the hotel on two occasions, blame mismanagement by hotel executives.

        For example, Edwin Smith, attorney for Mr. Roberts, said his client was hired to finish hallways in the 200-room hotel before remodeling of the rooms themselves was completed, causing a lot of repair and rework.

        Larry Knippa, Houston lawyer for the hotel, declined comment on the contractors' claims except to say they would be resolved in court along with the hotel's counterclaims against the contractors.

        — Mike Boyer

Oscar follow-up

        If it's a national television event and there is advertising, celebrities and hoopla, bet that a market research firm will soon come calling. The best advertisement on the Academy Awards was Pepsi Cola, according to 21 percent of the viewers.

        But Saa/research of Farmington Hills, Mich., did not stop with advertising. It asked 343 Academy Award viewers a host of other questions, like who was best dressed and worst dressed, what was best picture, as well as video rental plans. Viewers thought that Whoopi Goldberg was the worst dressed — followed by the ever-wailing Celine Dion — while pretty-in-pink Gwyneth Paltrow was the best dressed.

        As for best movie, Shakespeare in Love? It was no Titanic. The firm's 1998 survey found that 60 percent of the viewers agreed that Titanic was the best picture. This year, only 13 percent of the viewers agreed with the academy on Shakespeare,and 10 percent planned to buy the video. Last year, 41 percent planned to buy Titanic.

        — John Eckberg

        Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters and compiled by Lisa Biank Fasig of the business staff.

       



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