Special Report: Foreign Owners I Came, I Saw, I Blundered

I Came, I Saw, I Blundered For bosses from abroad, the U.S. is tougher than it looks

What could be more American than Good Humor ice cream? Or the 60-year-old fizz of Alka-Seltzer? Or the Thermos bottle? Well, these familiar trademarks now belong to someone else: the Dutch and the British, the West Germans and the Japanese, respectively. So do such U.S.-born corporate names as Smith Corona, Brooks Brothers and Pillsbury (all British); General Electric TV sets and home electronics (French); Wilson Sporting Goods (Finnish); and Carnation (Swiss). Last year foreign investors acquired nearly 400 U.S. businesses, worth a total of $60 billion. That was 61% more than the previous year and represented a drastic quickening of the...

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