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Steelmakers to be fined over cartel

The European Commission will this week fine 17 European steelmakers, including British Steel, for breaching anti-trust rules governing the marketing of steel beams used in construction. The Commission can fine firms up to 10 per cent of annual turnover.

Today, the Commission will consider another key question - how to resuscitate its steel rescue plan. It is expected to put pressure on manufacturers to cut millions of tons of capacity.

Viacom scents victory

Viacom, the US telecommunications group, last night appeared all but certain to win the dollars 10bn, five- month battle for control of Paramount Communications today, after rival QVC Network, apparently under pressure from regulators, confirmed on Sunday that it would not raise its bid.

Battle for Hertz

Volvo of Sweden said it had no plans to sell any of its 26 per cent stake in Park Ridge Corp, parent company of Hertz, in the wake of Ford Motor Company's announcement that it was seeking EC approval to take majority control of the car rental giant. Ford already owns 49 per cent.

Payments poser

The increasing scale of late payment between companies is damaging the recovery, says Trade Indemnity, the credit insurer.

View from City Road, page 28

Bank lawsuit dropped

Capel-Cure Myers Capital Management has dropped a pounds 6m lawsuit against Credit Suisse, following a separate legal settlement it reached last month in connection with the late Robert Maxwell. The two firms said they had agreed to settle their dispute without money being paid to either side and with Credit Suisse admitting no liability.

Duty-free top-up

Duty-free allowances for travellers within the European Union will double from ecu45 to ecu90 ( pounds 60) from 1 April. The allowance for those arriving in the EU from outside will rise to ecu175 from ecu45, except in Germany.

Fokker axes 1,900

Fokker, the Dutch aircraft manufacturer, will shed 1,900 jobs in a restructuring to cut production capacity to 40 planes a year.

BAA flying high

BAA said its seven airports handled 5.6 million passengers in January, up 5.4 per cent on the same month last year. Stansted continued its rapid growth, up 20 per cent, while Heathrow increased by 7 per cent and Gatwick remained level with last year.

Elf oversubscribed

Investors subscribed the offering to privatise the French Elf Aquitaine oil group by three times. Investors placed 3 million orders for a total of 98 million shares - 33 million shares were being offered to the public.

Recovery 'damaged by late payments'

(First Edition)

The increasing scale of late payment between companies is damaging the recovery, says Trade Indemnity, the credit insurer. No firms could report being paid on time, despite average activity across all industries being the highest for two years. Ten per cent of smaller companies had at least pounds 100,000 of invoices outstanding, more than 30 days beyond the due date.

France in the black

(First Edition)

The French current account showed a provisional, seasonally adjusted surplus of Fr3.1bn in November, compared with a revised Fr7.4bn in October.

Steeled for fines

(First Edition)

The European Commission will this week fine 17 European steelmakers, including British Steel, for collaborating on prices for steel beams in breach of anti-trust rules that apply across the European Union. The size of the fines has not been fixed.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Following last week's decline on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 9.28 points at 3,904.06.

TOKYO: The weekend breakdown of US-Japanese trade talks drove the Nikkei average down 531.45 points to 19,459.25.

HONG KONG: Fears of more tightening of US monetary policy sent the Hang Seng to a month's low of 10,988.81, down 515.22 points.

SYDNEY: Shares drifted lower on lack of offshore support. The All Ordinaries eased 2.8 to 2,238.6.

BOMBAY: Despite the ban on carry-forward business the index fell 79.69 points to 3,911.69.

JOHANNESBURG: Politically-inspired selling left the overall index 85 points weaker at 4,692.

FRANKFURT: Quiet pre-holiday trade took the DAX index 25.4 points higher to 2,116.01.

PARIS: Another losing session ended with the CAC-40 index 31.93 points adrift at 2,243.16.

ZURICH: Institutional selling after an early rally took the SPI 17.85 points lower to 1,881.29.

LONDON: Report, page 28.

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