Business and City in Brief

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Sony sees net profit plunge

Sony's pre-tax profit for the quarter to December 1993 rose 6.8 per cent from a year earlier to Y56.46bn, although net profit plunged 38 per cent to Y16.8bn because of losses at subsidiaries, which cut pre-tax profits but not taxes. Sales fell 3.7 per cent to Y1,070bn.

CityLink go-ahead

The Department of Trade and Industry has approved National Express's acquisition of Scottish CityLink. It has accepted that the purchase does not operate against the public interest.

ICI sells Nurel

ICI has sold Nurel, its Spanish fibres operation, to the management. The value represents less than 1 per cent of ICI's group net assets. Nurel, which manufactures nylon, polyester staple fibre and polyester filament yarn, employs 750 people and has annual sales of pounds 50m. Nurel was ICI's last remaining synthetic fibres operation in Europe following last year's sale of the majority of the fibres business to Du Pont.

Nationwide post

David Beety has become deputy chairman of Nationwide Building Society. Mr Beety is a solicitor and part-time lecturer at Kingston University and has been a non-executive director of the society since 1986.

Falling judgments

The number of county court judgments fell by 13 per cent last year from a record 2.1 million to 1.8 million. Consumer judgments fell by 13 per cent to 1.5 million and commercial ones against businesses and listed companies by 16 per cent to 3.3 million.

Amex calls

American Express has launched a scheme with Mercury to enable corporate customers to use the Cable and Wireless subsidiary's telephone service throughout the world. Amex cardholders may call a freephone number, enter their card number, a personal identification number and then the telephone number they require. Payment will be made through the debit card.

US deal for Proteus

Proteus, the USM-quoted drug company, announced a licence agreement with Hess & Clark, a US animal health group. Hess & Clark will market an anti-diarrhoea medication for calves in North America developed by a Proteus joint venture with the Irish Equine Foundation. The deal is Proteus's second US marketing agreement for animal health products this year.

Motoring up

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said production for the home market had risen 8.76 per cent to 63,987 units from 58,835 in January last year. A spokesman said the situation on the Continent may be improving and that this would be reflected in better UK production figures later in the year.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Blue chips closed lower after an inflation warning wiped out a big rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 14.63 points at 3,922.64.

Tokyo: Profit-taking in light trade left the Nikkei average 120.72 in arrears at 19,931.39.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunting outweighed some selling pressure as the Hang Seng index added 152.44 points to 10,786.58.

Sydney: Late selling after a firm day took the All Ordinaries index down 8.1 points to 2,240.9.

Bombay: Institutional buying carried the index 55.97 points higher to close at 3,863.39.

Johannesburg: Strong overseas support helped the overall index to 4,887, a 105-point gain.

Frankfurt: Closing the floor session ahead of the Bundesbank rate cut, the DAX index was 7.89 points easier at 2,128.72.

Paris: Expectation of lower interest rates raised the CAC-40 index 16.86 points to 2,281.18.

Zurich: In extremely heavy trading the Swiss Performance Index advanced 22.7 points to 1,948.18.

London: Report, page 32.

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