UTILITIES: Growing by Inches

Many a thriving business was born of smart shopping for surplus goods after World War II. But nothing beat the big buy that created Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., whose backers (including Houston Contractors George and Herman Brown) raised $143 million in 1947 to buy the Government's war-built 2,819-mile Big Inch and Little Big Inch pipelines. Out of an original investment on their part of only $150,000 in stock, they parlayed the Texas-to-East Coast oil lines into one of the U.S.'s big four natural-gas carriers, a giant worth $581 million.

Last week Texas Eastern was off again on another big deal. It...

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