BusinessWeek's April 21, 2008 Issue: The New E-spionage Threat

NEW YORK, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- THIS WEEK: * Cover Story: The New E-spionage Threat * The Spending Mirage * Bailing Out of Bear * You've Been Pre-Rejected For these stories and more, visit www.BusinessWeek.com...


As chaos rocked Bear Stearns during the weekend of Mar. 15-16 , one of the investment bank's star brokers prepared to bolt from its Boston office. The Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase were rushing to rescue Bear. But Douglas A. Sharon didn't wait around to see how it all came out. Surveillance cameras captured the 50-year-old veteran and an assistant toting two boxes out of Bear's downtown building. Earlier, Sharon had frantically called dozens of skittish clients and tried to sort through the mess with other executives at the branch. The company alleged in a lawsuit that amid the mayhem, Sharon committed an unlawful act of disloyalty, stealing copies of confidential account documents and, more important, the lucrative clients who went with that paperwork. Sharon denied any wrongdoing, countering that his actions amounted to client triage, not treachery. A judge found no merit to Bear's claims. The two sides continue to duke it out in arbitration, but the blow to Bear has already been dealt. With Bear and JPMorgan trying to prevent a mass client exodus, almost all of Sharon's 90 or so customers -- and their roughly $1 billion -- have moved to his new employer, Morgan Stanley. Documents and testimony from the legal scuffle offer a rare behind-the-scenes look at Bear's final days, as employees and clients alike scrambled to get out with as much of their money as they could. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_16/b4080043257581.htm?campaign _id=pr_newswire

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YOU'VE BEEN PRE-REJECTED

By Aili McConnon

Two courtside tickets to an NBA game: $600. Five-course dinner with your client afterward: $300. E-mail from your boss at 8:15 a.m. the next day asking what company business took you to a champagne bar at 2 a.m. : priceless. This scenario could become a reality at offices around the world, courtesy of MasterCard. In partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland , the credit-card giant is launching a corporate card that allows companies to set strict parameters on which restaurants, bars, and hotels their employees can patronize. The introduction of MasterCard's inControl credit card couldn't be better timed. As the economy falters, many companies are scrambling to trim travel and expense budgets, bumping workers from business class to economy and cutting back per diem food allowances for road warriors. Next up, MasterCard is looking to pitch a version of the card to parents who want to keep closer tabs on their offspring's spending habits. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_16/b4080031217154.htm?campaign _id=pr_newswire

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A SPINMEISTER IN NEED OF SPIN

By Burt Helm , with David Kiley and Steve Hamm

From the start, some of Mark J. Penn's colleagues had qualms about his dual roles as CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the public-relations giant, and chief strategist for the Presidential campaign of New York Senator Hillary Clinton . Maybe they shouldn't have. On Apr. 6 , Penn gave up his role as strategic chief with the campaign, though he continues to advise the candidate. The move followed revelations, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, that Penn met in late March with officials of the Colombian government, which had hired Burson to help pass a proposed free-trade pact with the U.S. that Clinton happens to oppose. L'Affaire Penn was yet another blow to the Clinton campaign. But it was also embarrassing for Burson, which is supposed to get good headlines for its clients, not bad ones for itself. As BusinessWeek went to press, Penn's job seemed secure, and none of the firm's clients, which include BP, Accenture, SAP, and Intel, had yanked their business (apart from the Colombian government, which fired the firm). Still, Penn & Co. are in full damage control mode. Penn plans to visit regional offices in the coming days and confer with his executives. "I'll be talking one-on-one," Penn told BusinessWeek, "and making sure that this is resolved, behind us, and the company moves on." http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_16/b4080000363255.htm?campaign _id=pr_newswire

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AMAZON TAKES ON IBM, ORACLE, AND HP

By Peter Burrows

Jeff Bezos made a fortune building Amazon.com into one of the top players in online retailing. Now he's looking for new ways to cash in on the company's capabilities. One of the most intriguing, he thinks, is to move into the $1.7 billion corporate computing market, where the Web's biggest bookstore aims to compete with IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and Microsoft. "That's exactly what we're doing," says Bezos. "And it's working." His approach is as unconventional as his strategy was when he started Amazon in 1995. The company won't be making computers or selling software to corporations. Instead it's offering companies the ability to tap into the vast computing capabilities of Amazon's own data centers, in a manner almost as easy as buying the latest best-seller. Companies pay only for the computing they need, avoiding the cost of buying and operating their own gear. Amazon began the effort six years ago with startups and individual programmers, and more than 300,000 clients have signed on. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_16/b4080000729196.htm?campaign _id=pr_newswire