Originally created 12/29/96

1996 winners and losers



Winners

Louis V. Gerstner Jr., chairman and chief executive of IBM, who has led the company back to high-tech pre-eminence since taking over more than three years ago, when IBM was considered a foundering dinosaur. IBM stock hit a nine-year high in November.

Charles Keating Jr., former head of the Lincoln Savings & Loan, seen as an arrogant symbol of the thrift crisis of the 1980s. His convictions were overturned.

Mary Schiavo, former Transportation Department inspector general, whose public warnings about safety lapses at ValuJet Inc. and other airlines led to broad criticism of the Federal Aviation Administration, which admitted it was slow to scrutinize Valujet before a May 11 crash that killed 110 people.

Hong Kong shipping magnate C.H. Tung, chosen to be the first chief executive to run the territory when it reverts to Chinese control July 1, 1997. Hong Kong is the last vestige of British colonialism in Asia.

Linda Wachner, the highest-paid woman executive in Corporate America, who as head of Warnaco-Authentic Fitness earned $11.6 million last year.

Losers

British cattle infected with "mad cow disease," or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The epidemic has been blamed as a possible cause of the deaths of 14 Britons who ate the meat of infected cows. It led to a broad ban on British meat imports.

Walt Disney Co. president Michael Ovitz, who quit after 16 months over differences with chairman Michael Eisner about how to run the company. The departure of Mr. Ovitz, once Hollywood's top talent agent, left Disney without an obvious successor to Mr. Eisner.

Michael H. Spindler, former chief executive of Apple Computer Inc., who was forced to resign after a torrent of bad news and a rumored takeover by rival Sun Microsystems Inc. Mr. Spindler was replaced by Gilbert Amelio, an Apple board member, turnaround specialist and engineer with 16 patents.

Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, former General Motors Corp. purchasing executive, who defected to Volkwsagen in 1993. He was charged with theft of GM corporate secrets by German prosecutors, and is the reason why VW faces up to $4 billion in civil damages in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. automaker. Mr. Lopez also resigned from VW.

Trans World Airlines chief executive Jeffrey Erickson, who nursed it from near extinction back to health but was widely criticized for the initial handling of the Flight 800 crash that killed all 230 people aboard. Mr. Erickson, the fourth TWA leader in three years, plans to resign in January.

In between

"Chainsaw" Albert J. Dunlap, the corporate turnaround executive who's made a name for himself by firing vast numbers of people. He plans to slash half the 12,000 workers at Sunbeam Corp., the troubled household products maker that recruited him earlier in the year. But even some of Mr. Dunlap's admirers wonder if his Sunbeam salvation plan is too harsh.

Peter I. Bijur, chief executive of Texaco Inc., who agreed to a record settlement of an employee discrimination suit after senior managers were caught denigrating black employees and conspiring to destroy evidence. Despite Mr. Bijur's effort to defuse the scandal, Texaco has an image problem.

Madonna, whose Evita "retro look" inspired a Bloomingdale's boutique and other fad promotions by the women's fashion industry, desperately seeking a new theme. It's unclear whether many women are embracing it.

Patty Stonesifer, one of the highest-ranking women in high technology, who quit as head of Microsoft Corp.'s Interactive Media division, saying she wanted more balance in her life.