Business & City Summary

Saudi prince buys Disney stake

United Saudi Commercial Bank, which is controlled by Prince Al Walid ben Talal ben Abdulaziz, has bought a 9.65 per cent stake in Euro Disney from the company's creditor banks.

The purchase represents the first stage of the implementation of an agreement between the prince, Walt Disney and the banks on 31 May. At that time Euro Disney said the prince had agreed to take a stake of 13 to 24 per cent by buying shares from the banks and Walt Disney.

Higher Singer

Singer & Friedlander, the merchant bank, raised pre-tax profits 22 per cent to pounds 11m, saying there was an 80 per cent rise in fees and commissions in the first half. The dividend was up 12 per cent.

Casual plunge

Country Casuals, the womenswear retailer, issued a profits warning that sent the shares down 32p to 120p. The company said it was more expensive than expected to establish its Koto and Elvi brands.

Cheaper building

Building costs are 30 per cent cheaper in real terms than at the height of the 1980s boom, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Its survey said that during 1996 they would still be 6 per cent below their 1989 level.

London pride

London has been voted the best city in Europe to do business in, according to an annual poll of top business locations. London came first in eight out of 11 indicators, beating 29 other cities.

Schneider sighting

The Frankfurt state prosecutors' office said it had indications that the fugitive property magnate Jurgen Schneider was in Iran. A spokeswoman said it could not conduct investigations there because Germany had no law enforcement treaty with Tehran. The statement followed weekend media reports that Iran was prepared to extradite Mr Schneider, who vanished with his wife in April leaving debts of DM5bn.

Life appointment

Nationwide, the UK's second- biggest building society, has appointed Tom Boardman managing director of Nationwide Life, its life insurance arm due to start operations next summer.

GM layoffs

General Motors' GM Hughes Electronics subsidiary is to lay off about 4,400 employees next year and phase out its company- owned facilities in California.

World Markets

New York: Shares moved narrowly ahead of today's consumer prices report. By the close the Dow Jones Average was down 14.37 points at 3,860.34.

Tokyo: Sporadic selling eroded most gains, leaving the Nikkei average 19.4 firmer at 19,917.28.

Hong Kong: Fears of higher US interest rates sliced more than 2.5 per cent off the Hang Seng index, 254.65 down at 9,890.37.

Sydney: Industrials led the market down, with the All Ordinaries index giving up 37.7 points to a two-month low of 2,032.9.

Bombay: A session of hectic buying took the index to a record 4,628.57, a gain of 77.62 points.

Johannesburg: Gold and other mining-related shares lost ground as the overall index dipped 63 points to 5,892.

Paris: Recovering from an early fall in reaction to the British interest rate rise, the CAC-40 index ended 17.96 higher at 1,966.79.

Frankfurt: Thin, nervous trade ended with the DAX index 30.54 points weaker at 2,154.61.

Zurich: Closed (holiday).

London: Report, page 16.

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