Bank to Get Golden Dollars Sooner

WASHINGTON - Next week the U.S. Mint will begin delivering the new Golden Dollar coins to the 12 Federal Reserve banks - and to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.Meeting Thursday with bankers who are concerned about being upstaged by the retailer, officials from the Mint and the Fed agreed to get the coins to banks sooner. "It would irritate the banks if all of a sudden these coins came in and we didn't have them," said Thomas Sheehan, chairman and president of Grafton (Wis.) State Bank, a $115 million-asset bank.

The Fed will begin taking orders for the new coins next week, through Jan. 21. Delivery is set for Jan. 27. However, the Fed may not be able to satisfy all initial orders due to expected high demand, according to agency spokeswoman Rose Pianalto.

Wal-Mart had been scheduled to get the coins this month, but the Fed originally planned to wait until February to take orders from banks and deliver the coins in March to avoid any complications arising from potential year-2000 problems.

"Since it didn't look like there were going to be Y2K problems, we worked with them to move up the date so they're getting it at the same time," U.S. Mint Director Philip N. Diehl said Thursday in an interview.

Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, was pleased by the move. "Banks are going to be on the firing line in terms of providing the coin," he said. "The name of the game is getting orders into the Fed."

The Fed will get an initial shipment of 20 million Golden Dollar coins and then 2.25 million per day until Feb. 10. After that, the Fed will get 4.5 million coins a day, Mr. Diehl said. All told, 200 million coins will be in circulation by March 1. By contrast, roughly 55 million new Susan B. Anthony dollars are minted every year. The Golden Dollar is expected to be more popular because it is easier to distinguish from other coins.

In another retail promotion, a Golden Dollar coin is inside every 2,000th box of Cheerios hitting supermarket shelves this month. Every 4,400th box contains a certificate for 100 coins.

- Katharine Fraser

Ludwig, Partners Organizing Investment Fund

WASHINGTON - In his fourth career incarnation, Eugene A. Ludwig plans to be a professional investor.After leaving his post as vice chairman of Deutsche Bank on Dec. 31, Mr. Ludwig said he and several partners are organizing a fund to invest in financial services firms and technology companies.

"It's time to just do something new," he told reporters this week after a speech at a Securities Industry Association conference. "I am just sort of entrepreneurial by nature."

The new company has been incorporated and tentatively named Cornerstone Financial Partners, Mr. Ludwig said. But he declined to reveal any other details, saying the company was still in its early stages of organization.

Mr. Ludwig was a partner with the Covington & Burling law firm before becoming Comptroller of the Currency in 1993. When his term expired in 1998, he joined Bankers Trust Corp., which Deutsche Bank acquired last summer.

During his speech, Mr. Ludwig jokingly referred to the government's ethics rules that barred him from reaping the benefits of the bull market during his tenure as a regulator.

- Dean Anason

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