ALL IN A COMPANY NAME?

Wharf. Sounds like something my dog would say.

It's my shorthand for Wharf (Holdings) Co., the new shorter name for

Hongkong & Kowloon Wharf & Godown Co.The new official name may be easier to say than the old one, but like most new short names adopted by companies trying to go modern, it's dull.

A godown is a warehouse, by the way. No doubt Wharf will keep trying to run the best little warehouses in Hong Kong.

And what about the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad? Last week, CSX Corp. said it's consolidating the B&O, the nation's oldest railroad, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad into CSX Transportation. Also going are the distinctive logos of the B&O, with a capitol dome, and the C&O, with a cat sleeping on a pillow.

As the possessor of a lengthy moniker myself, I don't like to see the distinctive if not colorful old corporate names disappear into abbreviated versions or, even worse, unpronounceable initials.

3M Co. can't compare with its old name: Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., which had a ring to it.

Du Pont won't do for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., but the venerable chemical company seems to be moving in that direction.

GTE Corp., the old General Telephone and Electronics, now runs commercials on television that are designed to distinguish it from GE, still known as General Electric Co., even after it took over RCA Corp., which, by the way, was Radio Corporation of America.

Can AM International compare with Addressograph-Multigraph Corp.? Does

Asarco Inc. tell us anything about what the old American Smelting and Refining Co. has become?

In my book, USX just doesn't have the authority of United States Steel Corp. I can understand why the beleaguered company dropped steel from its name, but who can tell anything about it from the new name?

RJR Nabisco Brands Inc. covers a lot of agglomerating by the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. It engulfed Nabisco Brands, itself a merger of what began as National Biscuit Co. with Standard Brands. RJR Nabisco once owned Sea-Land Corp., the transportation company now sought by CSX.

It doesn't take much thought to imagine what CSX and USX might call themselves if they should ever merge.

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