Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
RETAILING DIRECTOR CHECKS OUT OF ASDA

Peter Monaghan, Asda's retail director, is leaving for 'personal and family' reasons. He joined Asda in August 1992 and has been suffering from a viral infection.

Phil Cox, Asda's finance director, said: 'I have no doubt that a financial arrangement will be made in accordance with the terms of his contract.'

BT REDUCES CALL COSTS

BT is cutting the cost of calls to Australia and New Zealand from 2 February. Standard-rate calls will come down from 84p a minute to 70p, and cheap-rate calls from 70p to 60p. .

ON BOARD AT BANESTO

Eleven directors from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and one from Banco Santander have joined the new management of the stricken Banesto, Spain's fourth-largest bank.

CORPORATE NAMES

Twenty-five corporate members will start underwriting at Lloyd's as business resumes after the break, contributing pounds 1.6bn of underwriting capacity. In aggregate the corporate members have raised pounds 900m capital, ranging from a quoted investment trust with pounds 280m capital to private investment groups with pounds 1.5m.

HEALTHCARE HALT

Directors of Healthcare Holdings asked for a halt to share dealings pending negotiations that could lead to a 'significant' corporate transaction in the next three months. At the same time, they said they were talking to creditors about a possible restructuring of debt.

DANKA IN US DEAL

Danka Business Systems, the office equipment specialist, is paying an initial dollars 8.3m cash for the American Office Equipment Company, a copier dealer.

WEDGWOOD CHANGES

Tony O'Reilly, head of the Heinz international foods group, is taking over as non-executive chairman of the Waterford Wedgwood group, swapping roles with the present chairman, Donald Brennan, who replaces him as deputy chairman.

GERMAN WARNING

German commentators, politicians and businessmen warned in New Year statements on Friday that rising unemployment threatened to send federal and state budget deficits soaring next year. Politicians and businessmen said unemployment would linger at high levels, straining the social welfare system.

SHELL FRANCE LOSSES

Shell France, part of the Anglo- Dutch oil group, has warned that 1993 losses will be similar to the Fr1.9bn loss recorded for the previous year.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: A late reversal tipped blue chips into a fall, making for a mixed finish. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 21.25 points at 3,757.27.

MADRID: The general index ended 3.58 points higher at 322.77.

MILAN: Prices closed higher, with Montedison leading the market and sentiment underpinned by expectations that the Bundesbank will reduce rates at its first meeting in the new year. The Mibtel index rose 39 points to 10,836.

PARIS: Prices drifted throughout the day on profit-taking amid little investor enthusiasm and a lack of support from foreign markets. The CAC-40 index closed 13.0 points lower at 2,268.22.

HONG KONG: Prices recovered earlier losses to close firmer, with the Hang Seng index ending the half-day session up 10.92 points at a record close of 11,888.39.

SYDNEY: Prices closed higher in a half-day session on buying by overseas investors and on index- linked trading following the expiry of December options and futures contracts. The All Ordinaries index closed up 19.1 points at 2,273.6.

LONDON: Report, page 18.

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