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Ford unloads Californian bank

Ford Motor Company has sold First Nationwide Financial Corporation, the money-losing Californian savings bank it acquired a decade ago, to a Texan savings and loan company for dollars 1.1bn, barely recouping its investment. First Nationwide, with assets of dollars 16bn, has been plagued with bad property loans.

Ford also announced that it will buy the 46 per cent of the Hertz car-hire group that it does not already own.

Business still taped

More than three-quarters of small businesses believe that the Government is not doing enough to cut their burden of red tape, according to a survey of 1,000 firms carried out by Barclays Bank.

Lab sales attacked

Scientific unions attacked plans to privatise three key research laboratories as 'wanton destruction of a national resource'. The Government said it would privatise the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride near Glasgow, the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, also at Teddington, as soon as possible.

Audi loses DM148m

Audi, the up-market division of Volkswagen, made a pre-tax loss of DM148m ( pounds 59m), against a profit of DM508m in 1992. But the chairman, Herbert Demel, said that it should break even this year. Mr Demel took over in February after the sacking of Franz-Josef Kortum.

Yorkshire gas stake

Yorkshire Electricity has paid pounds 27.2m for a 6.83 per cent stake in the Armada gas field in the North Sea, which is operated by Amerada Hess. Yorkshire, which will spend a further pounds 45m on Armada's development, plans to compete in supplying gas to households after the British Gas monopoly ends in 1996.

Fokker cuts cuts

Fokker, the Dutch aircraft maker now controlled by Daimler-Benz, has reduced its planned redundancies to 750 employees instead of the 1,900 it announced two months ago.

Digital format deal

The world's 50 biggest electric appliance makers, including Philips of the Netherlands and Sony of Japan, have agreed on a technical standard for the future generation of digital videocassette recorders to avert a format war.

NatWest posting

National Westminster Bank has appointed David Went to the new post of chief executive of Coutts Group, which brings together NatWest's private banking subsidiaries. National Westminster Bancorp, NatWest's US arm, reported net income of dollars 62.6m for the first quarter of 1994 compared with dollars 60.7m in the first quarter of 1993.

Training cost

(First Edition)

Lloyds Abbey Life expects UK life and pension sales to be affected by its increase emphasis on staff training, the chairman Sir Simon Hornby told shareholders. The move follows widespread criticism of selling standards in the industry.


New York: Oil stocks encouraged a recovery, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average back to close with only a 1.78-point deficit at 3,663.25.

Tokyo: Futures-linked selling pulled the Nikkei average down 73.21 points to 19,987.2.

Hong Kong: Falls in late trade left the Hang Seng index 153.13 points weaker at 9,600.63.

Sydney: Light profit-taking after the previous day's gains took 16.2 points off the All Ordinaries index, closing at 2,095.

Johannesburg: Shares failed to hold up after the bullion price fell and political worries depressed sentiment. The overall index gave up 68 points to 4,955.

Frankfurt: Closing ahead of the Bundesbank's interest rate decision, the DAX index was 10.48 points lower at 2,198.71.

Paris: Unimpressed by the German move, the CAC-40 index closed 13.31 down at 2,139.05.

Zurich: Overnight losses on Wall Street helped to push the Swiss Performance Index down 17.31 points to 1,828.46.

London: Report, page 30.