Business: Monsieur High Rise

In the increasingly specialized realm of international finance, Jean-Claude Aaron has scratched a big niche; he calls himself a constructeur-promoteur.

Fellow Frenchmen rather grudgingly call him "the father of the tower," because of his role in building the Maine-Montparnasse Tower, the most controversial Parisian structure since M. Eiffel's spindly folly. It is Europe's tallest (686 ft.) and costliest ($235 million) office building; last month its shops and boutiques opened, and its office space is already 90% taken.

The ambitious project had been stalled for a decade—until the developer, the U.S.'s Collins Tuttle & Co., in 1969 recognized that only a well-connected Frenchman could...

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