Singing the Blue Cross Blues

Blue Cross of California has the blues because it thinks that the press is ignoring it, but the health insurer isn't suffering in silence. In a recent letter to the editor of the trade paper Managed HealthCare, Blue Cross Chief Executive Leonard D. Schaeffer complimented the editors for a recent article on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield system.

However, he added, "as usual, the Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn. and the Chicago Plan were interviewed for the article. We were not contacted, even though Blue Cross of California has more members in managed care than any other 'Blue' Plan."

Lately, Blue Cross's public relations agency has been sending letters to editors offering interviews with the chairman, who is described as "the architect of a stunning two-year turnaround of the once-failing health insurance giant."

A Royal Pain for Imperial

Things are tough enough in the banking and thrift business without having people confuse you with a troubled operation.

The woes at Imperial Savings & Loan in San Diego are causing headaches for at least two unrelated Southern California institutions, Imperial Thrift & Loan in Burbank and Imperial Bank in Los Angeles.

Imperial, the bank, is making sure people know that it has no ties to Imperial, the savings and loan. Its ads now include a paragraph in large letters: "Imperial Bank is not--nor has it ever been--affiliated with Imperial Savings & Loan or its parent, Imperial Corp. of America."

And Trouble at Lincoln Too

Meanwhile, Lincoln Bancorp suffers from a similar problem. John J. Keating, chief executive of the Encino holding company for Lincoln National Bank, says, "I've got the double whammy." Customers and others muddle his bank's name with that of Lincoln Savings & Loan, and they confuse him with Charles H. Keating Jr., the controversial chairman of the S&L's parent company. The two are not related.

Lincoln Bancorp's board wants to change the institution's name. There's an employee contest to rename the bank, but no one has yet won the prize, a Hawaiian vacation. Several suggestions were turned down. So was a consultant who offered to come up with a new name for $100,000.

Bear Stearns' Miserly Ways

In the current severe slump of the securities industry, the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns Cos. is one of the relatively few prospering brokerages. This is in part because of the notorious penny-pinching ways of the firm's chairman and chief executive, Alan C. (Ace) Greenberg. Staffers complain that paper clips, pencils and rubber bands are in short supply. Employees are told to save paper clips from incoming mail. Now Greenberg has carried the campaign a step further: Employees recently received notification that they will have to turn their frequent-flyer miles from business trips back to the company to be used to pay for other business trips. But one staff member said it probably won't make much difference to most employees. "People never have time to even take vacations," the executive said.

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