A WEEK IN BUSINESS

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MAI, the TV to financial services group, rocketed by 16.9 per cent to 435p as it announced a planned merger with United News & Media. The shares were so strong because speculators hope the deal will flush out a counter- bid for MAI from Carlton.

Tail-ender

Standard Chartered, the merchant bank, suffered from bid chill and slipped back 8.9 per cent to 111.1p. It had been rumoured as a target for NatWest, which now looks more likely to offer a share buy-back rather than go on a buying spree.

Greasy pole (up)

Alistair Defriez, a senior corporate financier at the investment bank SBC Warburg, is to be the new head of the Takeover Panel, replacing William Staple, who returns to Rothschild's next month.

Greasy pole (down)

British Gas chief executive Cedric Brown, whose 75 per cent pay rise last year sparked widespread outrage, resigned last week. He will receive a pounds 247,000-a-year pension and other benefits. At the same time, British Gas unveiled plans to break itself in two.

Nice little earner

Britannia Building Society announced loyalty payments worth pounds 35m and mortgage discounts for its 1.6 million members.

Clinched

Pearson, the media and entertainment group, paid Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation pounds 377m for Harper Collins Educational Publishing.

Jobs lost

Tarmac and Wimpey warned of hundreds of job losses in the building industry as they confirmed a pounds 600m asset swap. Wimpey takes Tarmac's housebuilding division in return for its construction and quarrying interests.

Did they mean that?

European Commission president Jacques Santer heartened Euro-sceptics when he warned that monetary union must begin in 1999 or not at all. "Delaying currency union would be the end of it."

U-turn

Videotron, the Canadian cable TV company, executed an abrupt about-turn when it decided to sell its 56 per cent stake in Videotron Holdings, its British subsidiary.

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