1/24/97 -- 4:54 PM


PITTSBURGH (AP) - The executive at the center of a feud between H.J. Heinz Corp. and Campbell Soup Co. returned to work this week after a mediator failed to resolve his job status.

Daniel O'Neill, who had been in charge of Campbell's U.S. soup and prepared-foods division, left this month to become head of Heinz's pet-food and Starkist tuna units and their Latin American affiliates.

Campbell contends O'Neill agreed not to work for a competitor for at least 18 months after leaving the soup giant.

Heinz claims the pact does not apply because O'Neill will not be in charge of products that directly compete with Campbell.

O'Neill had agreed to stay off the job during last week's mediation talks.

Lawsuits filed by both sides in the matter were consolidated Thursday in federal court in Camden, N.J. A hearing there on Campbell's request to remove O'Neill from his new job is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.