Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Westland gives in to GKN

Westland Group yesterday recommended that its remaining shareholders accept GKN's increased pounds 577m takeover offer after the automotive and defence group, with 52 per cent of the fully diluted share capital under its control, declared its bid unconditional. But Westland said that the higher offer still did not fully reflect its value as an independent company.

Barclays options

Martin Taylor, chief executive of Barclays, has been granted options over 196,900 shares in the bank. The options are exercisable between March 31, 1997, and March 30, 2004, at 544p.

Renault declines

Renault's net profit fell to Fr1.07bn in 1993 from Fr5.68bn a year earlier. The decline was due to a particularly difficult economic environment in Europe, competitive pressures and the impact of currency devaluations in several of its markets, the company said.

Rugby to float

Rugby Estates, the former property arm of Hillsdown Holdings, is coming to the stock market valued at pounds 20.75m. The shares were placed at 115p, a 13.1p discount to pro forma net assets.

Doctors' quote

Healthcall Group, the largest provider of duty doctor services in the UK, is listing on the stock market in May. The company made 1.3 million home visits last year and operating profits of pounds 6m.

Imro fine

A&R Equity has been fined pounds 15,000 by the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation for six breaches of investor protection rules and principles. A&R admitted levying unreasonable charges, making unsuitable investment recommendations, having inadequate customer records and giving a misleading impression of its permitted activities.

Deal falls through

Mercury Asset Management's plan to buy River & Mercantile Investment Management, an investment trust specialist, has broken down after failure to agree a price acceptable to all parties. Lough Callahan, a MAM director, said MAM needed to win the agreement of River & Mercantile's trusts and employees.

BAT pay

Sir Patrick Sheehy, chairman of BAT Industries, was paid pounds 620,181 last year. The fall from the pounds 980,679 he was paid in 1992 partly reflected his switch to a non-executive role from last October. BAT's two highest-paid directors both received nearly pounds 780,000 last year.

Johnston referred

The pounds 29.4m acquisition by Johnston Press of Halifax Courier has been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

World Markets

New York: The Dow Jones performed a 71-point about-turn to end a five-day losing streak with a gain of 9.21 to 3,635.96 after being down more than 60 earlier.

Tokyo: Profit-taking and futures index-linked selling triggered a 447.99-point plunge in the Nikkei 225 to 19,111.92.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index closed 202.30 points lower at 9,029.91.

Sydney: Share prices eased for the sixth consecutive session, lowering the All Ordinaries index 39.3 to 2,053.1

Johannesburg: Political developments had little impact. The industrial index shed 50 points to 5,644, while the gold index firmed 18 to 2,012.

Zurich: The SMI index gave up 19.7 to 2,794.8 in a short session ahead of the holidays.

Frankfurt: Stronger bonds restrained a decline in the DAX index to 14.42 at 2,133.11.

Paris: The CAC-40 index ended virtually unchanged at 2,081.94, down 1.93, after the Bank of France cut its intervention rate.

London: Report, page 31.

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