Business and City in Brief

Air France job cuts backed

Air France staff voted to back a Fr20bn ( pounds 2.3bn) rescue package which will result in job cuts and a wage freeze. Christian Blanc, chairman, had threatened to resign unless the plan won staff support.

The prime minister, Edouard Balladur, has made the approval of the employees a condition for going ahead with cash injection for the ailing airline.

Sabena losses

The Belgian national airline, Sabena, made a Bfr4.5bn ( pounds 128m) loss in 1993, including a one-time charge of about Bfr1bn for restructuring costs.

Viacom denial

Shares of Viacom, the US entertainment group, rose yesterday on reports that it may sell Madison Square Garden to Nynex, the regional US telephone utility. Both Viacom and Nynex denied talks were under way.

Development cash

Small and medium-sized firms are to get an extra pounds 10m for the development of new products and processes, the trade and technology minister, Patrick McLoughlin, said. The Support for Products under Research programme, which was due to close last month, is to be extended to March 1995.

New rules

The Securities and Investments Board, the senior financial regulator, has issued rules that will implement proposed changes to the Investors Compensation Scheme. One aim is to put an end to cross-subsidisation of compensation bills between different sorts of investment firm.

Leaving Blenheim

Two directors resigned from Blenheim, the exhibitions group struggling to shake off City scepticism about its performance. The departures of Philip Soar, in charge of planning and strategy, and Michael Fletcher, managing director of Blenheim UK, follow poor results and a downbeat trading statement. The shares rose 1p to 370p.

Help ruled out

The Welsh Secretary, John Redwood, ruled out government help for Tower colliery, the last pit in South Wales which is earmarked for closure by British Coal. Miners have voted to oppose closure, rejecting an enhanced redundancy package, but British Coal said the vote was not representative of the total workforce.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: There were modest gains in a cautious market awaiting key inflation data. The Dow Jones average closed 14.57 points higher at 3,688.83.

Tokyo: Futures-linked selling lowered the Nikkei average 36.91 points to 19,898.08.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunters pushed prices up almost 2 per cent. The Hang Seng added 178.55 to 9,476.77.

Sydney: With investors wary of further falls on Wall Street, the All Ordinaries slipped six points to 2,076.

Bombay: Closed (holiday).

Johannesburg: Weakness in the financial and commercial rands boosted shares, with the overall index 57 points better at 5,009.

Frankfurt: Hopes of an interest rate cut helped to push the DAX 21.99 points higher to 2,225.33.

Paris: A recovery in bonds drove the CAC-40 index up 30.51, closing at 2,145.28.

Zurich: Prices were supported by position-squaring on the futures market. The SPI rose 2.22 to 1,848.2.

London: Report, page 26.

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