Business and City in Brief

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Olivetti cuts its losses

Olivetti, Carlo De Benedetti's Italian computer company, cut net losses in 1993 to L464.6bn ( pounds 194m) compared with L649.7bn ( pounds 272m) the year before. The company said the improvement was due to higher revenues and containment of operating costs. It is planning a L250bn convertible bond issue.

Cerus, Mr De Benedetti's heavily indebted French holding company, is planning to cut its debts through an Fr858m share issue and the sale of its banking unit Banque Dumenil Leble.

Housing starts up

There were 15,600 housing starts in Britain during February according to provisional estimates by the Department of Employment, compared with 14,400 a year earlier. During the same month there were 12,700 completions, compared with 13,200 in February 1992.

Disney meeting

Japanese banks that lent to Euro Disney have been asked to a meeting next Monday in Paris by Banque Nationale de Paris and Banque Indosuez. The meeting is expected to be a full-scale attempt to get an agreement on an outline plan to restructure Euro Disney's Fr21bn of debt by an informal 15 April deadline.

Audit relief

Companies with turnover of less than pounds 90,000 will be exempt from the statutory audit of their accounts, and those with annual sales of between pounds 90,000 and pounds 350,000 will undergo a less onerous compilation report, under proposals issued by Neil Hamilton, the corporate affairs minister.

Dividend proposal

Daimler-Benz, the German technology group, is to propose a reduction in the annual dividend for 1993 to DM8 ( pounds 3.30) from DM13 ( pounds 5.30) per nominal DM50 share at its annual meeting in May. The company said this reflected difficult business conditions during 1993.

German jobs

The unemployment rate in western Germany fell to 8.5 per cent in March from a revised 8.8 per cent in February. Industrial orders rose a seasonally adjusted 3.1 per cent in February from January but were down 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. France's industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 1.2 per cent in January from December.

Green replaced

Nigel Walmsley is to replace Michael Green as chairman of Carlton Television. He is already chief executive. The move is one of a series reflecting the recent acquisition of Central Television by Mr Green's Carlton Communications.

Toyota increase

Toyota Motor Corp is to increase overseas production by 50 per cent over the next three years - a move that will mean about half the cars it sells abroad will be built outside Japan.

World Markets

New York: After a firm opening shares drifted in moderate trading and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 13.53 points at 3,693.26.

Tokyo: Late institutional buying boosted the Nikkei 225 by 194.24 to 19,890.98.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index edged 51.61 points higher to 9,285.92 with gains in property and finance issues.

Sydney: Futures buying nudged the All Ordinaries index 3.3 points ahead to 2,087.4.

Johannesburg: Political fears and a lower bullion price depressed the overall index by nine points to 4,858 and the gold index by 5.1 to 1,913.

Brussels: The BEL 20 index gained 1.05 to 1,469.13.

Frankfurt: A stronger bond market lifted the DAX index 10.21 to 2,201.41.

Milan: Renewed political optimism drove up the Mitbel index 181 to 11,919.

Paris: Early weakness on Wall Street lowered the CAC-40 index 8.65 to 2,119.

London: Report, page 30.