No debt to swap

Your front-page article ``Debt-for-Nature Swap Proposed Between Uncle Sam and Loggers,'' Dec. 3, is based on an erroneous premise that there is a ``debt'' to be swapped.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) claim referred to is just that: It is an unliquidated claim concerning United Financial Group, a company unrelated to the Pacific Lumber Company. The claim is not a debt of any sort. But even if it were it would still have nothing to do with the Pacific Lumber Company or its parent, MAXXAM, Inc.

Neither Pacific Lumber nor MAXXAM has the kind of financial obligation to the US government that is suggested by the story. Further, there is no link between Pacific Lumber's potential sale of timberland and MAXXAM's position as a stockholder of the United Financial Group. MAXXAM's critics are wrong when they suggest that assets of Pacific Lumber can somehow be correlated to the potential liabilities of United Financial Group or its officers.

Another less serious error identifies Pacific Lumber as having been family-owned until 1985. Not so. It was a publicly traded, NYSE-listed company in which no individual owned more than 5 percent. Robert W. Irelan, Houston VP for Public Relations, MAXXAM

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