Business: Magna Charter

The troika conglomerate

Nearly every businessman believes that new corporate conglomerates went out with the miniskirt. Not Raymond Mason. Says the 53-year-old chairman of the Charter Co., who has hitched together an unlikely troika of oil, insurance and communications enterprises into the 74th firm on the FORTUNE 500 list: "You get safer by getting bigger."

Charter is moving from big to magna. It has agreed to buy the ailing Commonwealth Oil Refining Co., which operates a 160,000 bbl.-per-day Puerto Rico refinery, for $650 million. And last week it was completing plans to build a...

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