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Shares in Bank of Scotland surged by 12.7 per cent to 306.5p amid rampant takeover speculation surrounding both itself and its arch rival, Royal Bank of Scotland. HSBC, Midland Bank's parent, was mooted as a possible bidder.


Trafalgar House, the engineering and property conglomerate, plunged 16.9 per cent to 24.5p after reporting a worse than expected pounds 321m loss.

Greasy pole (up)

Greg Dyke, head of Pearson's television operations, joined the main board, raising speculation he may eventually take over from Frank Barlow as chief executive of the media group.

Greasy pole (down)

Gianni Agnelli, Fiat's chairman for 30 years, announced plans to retire. Now 74, he will be succeeded by his closest lieutenant, Cesare Romiti, 72 next year. Profile, page 5.

Nice little earner

Directors of the National Grid saw the value of their shares and options grow to more than pounds 2m as the company floated on the stock market. David Jefferies, chairman, has shares worth pounds 780,000.


Tomkins, the buns to guns conglomerate, acquired the privately owned US firm Gates Rubber, which makes power transmission belts for cars, for about $1bn.

Sound bite

"British Energy has finally accepted what everyone else has realised for the past six or seven years. No one in their right minds would put money into building a new nuclear power station." Greenpeace on the decision to abandon plans for new nukes.

Banana skin

Financial Dynamics, one of the City's biggest public relations consultancies, was rapped by the Takeover Panel for leaking price-sensitive information on behalf of its client, AMEC. It was promptly sacked.


Interest rates headed downwards for the first time in two years. The Bank of England shaved a quarter point from base rates to 6.5 per cent. Mortgage lenders followed with quarter-point reductions.

Under fire

Peter Davis, head of the lottery regulator Oflot, was criticised by MPs for accepting free flights from GTech, the American company with a 22.5 per cent stake in Camelot, the lottery operator.

M'learned friends

Appeal Court judges ruled that Roger Salmon, the rail franchising director, acted unlawfully in setting minimum service standards lower than those already in existence for five of the first seven train-operating companies. However, the Government will be allowed to proceed with awarding the first three railway franchises next week.

Place your bets

Odds on all EU member countries recognising the Euro as the single European currency by the end of 1999? Ladbroke is quoting 16 to 1.