Business and City in Brief

'Dirty tricks' case adjourned

THE US court hearing Virgin Atlantic's 'dirty tricks' complaint against British Airways adjourned yesterday without deciding whether it has jurisdiction over the case.

BA has asked that the case be dismissed, arguing that none of Virgin's allegations involve violations of American anti-trust laws. But Virgin says a number of BA's allegedly anti-competitive actions, including corporate travel incentives and exclusive arrangements with travel agents, were directed at US customers.

Mills & Allen keeps sites

(First Edition)

Mills & Allen, the outdoor advertising group owned by the French company Havas, is to be allowed to keep 418 of the 3186 large poster sites which it originally undertook to sell following a 1991 Monopolies and Mergers Commission report. The report was prompted by M&A's acquisition of Brunton Curtis Outdoor Advertising. The DTI, advised by the OFT, has decided the growth in the poster market means that there will be no adverse effect on competion if M&A, which has so far sold 2768 panels, keeps the remaining sites.

Steel scrutiny

The Government has asked the European Commission to scrutinise capacity reductions promised in December by some European steel companies in return for billions of pounds in subsidies. Ministers are concerned that the conditions under which aid was allowed may not be adhered to.

CBI councillors

The Confederation of British Industry said 16 new members have joined its national council. These include: Brian Baldock, deputy chairman of Guinness; John Banfield, chairman of Mobil Oil Co (London); Sir Trevor Chinn, chairman and managing director of Lex Service; David Jefferies, chairman of National Grid; Peter Sanguinetti, group director of British Gas; and Colin Sharman, senior partner of KPMG Peat Marwick.

Mercedes-VW deal

Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz said they would co-operate in component supplies for van production. Mercedes said the deal would allow VW to base the successor to its LT Transporter van on the new Mercedes Transporter series being produced in Dusseldorf. It also means that Mercedes will deliver DM250m worth of steering systems, gearboxes and axles annually to VW.

Rothmans in Bulgaria

Rothmans International is investing dollars 1m in shares offered by 'BT', Bulgaria's largest cigarette factory. Rothmans's investment marks the first time a large western company has ventured into Bulgaria's tobacco industry.

Bridge underwriters

Chase Investment Bank Ltd, ABN-AMRO Bank, Societe Generale, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank Ltd and five Portuguese banks have initially committed to underwrite a big Portuguese bridge project, believed to be a plan to build a second road bridge over the Tagus in Lisbon. The 180bn escudo contract was awarded on Tuesday to a consortium led by Trafalgar House.

Burton sale

Burton Group said that Burton Property Trust had entered into an agreement to sell the 87,900 sq ft Quays Office Building in Uxbridge, west of London, to Lincoln National (UK) for pounds 14.5m.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Early gains were wiped out by profit-taking and by the close the Dow Jones Average was down 3.86 points at 3,648.68.

Tokyo: Renewed foreign buying boosted the Nikkei 225 by 165.03 points to 19,964.39.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng gained 222.26 to 9,156.85 as property shares rallied after recent losses.

Sydney: Overnight gains on Wall Street nudged the All Ordinaries index 12.9 ahead to 2,042.5

Johannesburg: The sharply lower bullion price trimmed early gains. The overall index ended 5.02 better at 5,024.

Madrid: The Ibex-35 index soared 95.31 to 3,459.70.

Zurich: The SMI index recovered 6.3 to 2,787.9.

Frankfurt: Demand for retailers and banks lifted the DAX index 16.95 to 2,213.92.

Paris: A strong rebound in bonds and signs of strengthening economic recovery raised the CAC-40 index 43.22 to 2,135.17.

London: Report, page 16.

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