CORPORATIONS: Sugar Plum

In a small, green-carpeted room of San Francisco's Bank of America, one of the biggest sugar deals in West Coast history was quietly sealed. Last week, for $5,250,000, husky, handsome Charles Edouard de Bretteville, 36, and associates announced that they had picked up the choicest pieces of the disintegrating J.D. & A.B. Spreckels companies, a sprawling empire founded by bearded Claus Spreckels in 1863, which once held some 50 companies worth $60 million.

Most of the heirs of old Claus—five women and three men, among them Playboy (five marriages) Adolph B. Spreckels Jr.—had shown little interest in the business. As...

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