Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Government deal on coal pensions

The Government has agreed to increase British Coal's two pension schemes annually in line with the retail price index after it is privatised.

In addition, ministers will not interfere with the day-to-day running of the schemes except in exceptional circumstances.

Atomic energy boss

Peter Watson, a British Rail director, has been appointed chief executive of the commercial arm of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority in preparation for privatisation. The division, which employs 4,500, is expected to be sold next year, raising about pounds 250m.

Bus group shares

Shares in GRT, the Scottish- based bus group coming to the stock market next week, have been priced at 160p. The offer, througha placing of 31.71 million shares, puts GRT on an estimated earnings ratio of 12.4 and values the bus group at about pounds 57.2m.

Sun Life looks east

Sun Life, the insurer, is taking a 10 per cent stake in the Fleming Indian Investment Trust, which has raised pounds 54.7m in a placing. Sun Life, which has close links with the Life Insurance Corporation of India, will invest up to pounds 10m.

Adscene's pounds 5m buy

Adscene Group has bought Williams-Roper Publications, a newspaper publisher trading as Four Countries Newspapers, for pounds 5m. Four Countries, based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, was established in 1970 and publishes six weekly free newspapers. The titles have a combined circulation of approximately 143,000 copies per week.

US rates pressure

Members of Congress have asked Alan Greenspan, US Federal Reserve chairman, to halt the rise in interest rates to avoid stifling economic and job growth. They said the increases were not fighting off inflation but economic growth and employment.

Assembly line cuts

IBC, the firm that assembles Vauxhall's four-wheel drive vehicle, the Frontera, is shedding 300 jobs at its plant in Luton, Bedfordshire. The firm said the cuts would come from voluntary redundancies.

EU considers options

The European Commission is planning to set up a special group to assess the options, swaps, futures and other derivative markets whose growth is causing concern among European Union regulators. The plan is to identify the risks of such markets and assess the systemic risk of having a serious disruption of a market caused by a single player in trouble.

World Markets

New York: Closed (day of mourning for Richard Nixon).

Tokyo: Bargain-hunting after recent falls lifted the Nikkei average 100.22 points to 19,729.15, with the yen's slight rise discouraging other investors.

Hong Kong: Rumours of the death of Deng Xiaoping sent the Hang Seng tumbling 215.39 points (2.3 per cent) to 9,113.25.

Sydney: Portfolio sales in the afternoon wiped out early gains to leave the All Ordinaries index 9.7 points weaker at 2,059.7.

Bombay: Sluggish trade lowered the index 41.67 to 3,738.85.

Johannesburg: Closed because of the general election.

Paris: Pulled up by further gains in the bond market, the CAC-40 index held on to its morning levels and finished with a 16.41- point advance at 2,147.32.

Frankfurt: A firmer chemicals sector helped the DAX to record a 10.47-point gain to 2,253.57.

Zurich: In thin volume, supported by moderate gains in bonds, the Swiss Performance Index added 6.94 points to 1,809.9.

Milan: Shares closed lower as the market awaited appointment of the new prime minister.

London: Report, page 34.