Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Your friendly tax 'ombudsman'

Elizabeth Filkin, the Inland Revenue's complaints adjudicator, has come down on the side of the public almost twice as often as she has sided with tax officials, figures published yesterday show.

In the nine months since it started operating, the adjudicator's office, which acts like an ombudsman, took up 310 cases for full investigation. It has so far settled 104, of which 64 were wholly or partly in favour of the complainant and 36 in favour of the Revenue.

Severed connections

Cable & Wireless is restructuring its corporate headquarters in London with the loss of 50 jobs, and a further 50 likely to go among staff connected with the group's operations overseas.

US prices cheer

US wholesale prices rose a modest 0.2 per cent last month, suggesting that despite the recent upheaval in financial markets, upward pressure on American inflation remains subdued, official figures showed yesterday.

Gatt's goodies

The Uruguay Round Gatt agreement could boost world trade by dollars 755bn, or 21 per cent, between 1993 and 2002, a preliminary Gatt study says.

Insurers' burden

Cleaning up asbestos contamination and other environmental threats will cost the US dollars 2,000bn over the next 25 years, with about dollars 132bn borne by property and casualty insurers, a report from AM Best, the US insurance- ratings group, says.

Scottish gas

Scottish Power has signed a pounds 100m contract to buy gas from the Froy field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Gas from the field will be used by the Caledonian Gas subsidiary to compete with British Gas.

Taylor's rise

Martin Taylor, now chief executive of Barclays Bank, was paid pounds 224,000 in his last year at Courtaulds Textiles, up from pounds 206,000 in the previous year.

Danbury comeback

Danbury, a property company in administration, is to be relisted on the Stock Exchange, with David Abell's Suter becoming the largest shareholder. Suter is selling its sheltered housing interests and other property to Danbury in exchange for a 26.3 per cent stake and about pounds 700,000. Share dealings are expected to begin on 9 May.

World Markets

New York: Tumbling high technology stocks depressed Wall Steet, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.14 points at 3,681.69 at closing.

Tokyo: With foreign investors reducing their holdings on political concern, the Nikkei average fell 249.75 points to 19,648.33.

Hong Kong: HSBC led the market higher, with the Hang Seng index 261.32 better at 9,738.09.

Sydney: A late rally carried the All Ordinaries index ahead to 2,095.1, a gain of 19.1 points.

Bombay: Profit-taking reduced gains, leaving the index 50.38 points higher at 3,928.93.

Johannesburg: Gold price weakness pulled shares down. The index shed 73 points to 4,937.

Frankfurt: Deutsche Bank fell heavily on worries over its exposure to a large construction firm. The DAX lost 14.73 to 2,210.6.

Paris: Prices continued to follow the bond market higher but fell back near the close, leaving the CAC-40 index up 3.27 at 2.148.55.

Zurich: The SPI edged up 0.49 to 1,848.69 in very quiet trade.

London: Report, page 32.

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