FINANCIERS: An Able Cain Makes a Killing

An Able Cain Makes a Killing

When Financial World magazine published its annual list of Wall Street's 100 highest earners last week, no one was surprised to see junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken on top (1988 income: at least $180 million) and leveraged- buyout king Henry Kravis ($110 million) in third place. But who was this in the No. 2 position? A relatively unknown dealmaker named Gordon Cain, 77, took that spot by earning an estimated $120 million last year through his Houston LBO firm, Sterling Group.

Cain's rise began in 1987 when his company added to its string of petrochemical plants, buying at bargain prices. Sterling and...

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