Business and City in Brief

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CBI calls for boost to investment

The Confederation of British Industry has urged the Government to lower the tax burden on retained profits to boost investment. It also said that personal income should only be taxed if it is consumed and that policies should aim to reduce the volatility of personal borrowing.

Investment by individuals in unquoted companies should be no less tax-efficient than investing in pensions or housing. The CBI report was a contribution to the Treasury's review of savings and taxation.

Hang Seng plunges

The Hong Kong stock market plummeted on concern about social instability in China. The Hang Seng index closed down 793.43 points or 6.5 per cent. Page 30

MG debts soar

Metallgesellschaft, the German engineer, warned of impending bankruptcy if its creditor banks failed to support a rescue plan quickly. The group revealed debts of DM9bn and losses of DM1.9bn last year. Page 30

Warburg tops league

SG Warburg retained its position in first place in the league of UK new issue underwriters in 1993, according to IFR Securities Data. It underwrote 60 issues worth pounds 3.2bn. Morgan Grenfell was second (up from tenth in 1992). Underwriting volume rose 78 per cent last year.

War head

The dollars 10bn bidding war between two US cable television groups for Paramount Communications comes to a head today. Viacom, whose merger agreement with Paramount was struck down by a Delaware court last month, has until 5pm New York time to top QVC's dollars 92-a-share tender offer.

Buildings cheer

UK construction tender prices, held down last year by wage freezes and tough price-competition, will rise by about 4.5 per cent in 1994, according to an annual industry report by cost consultant EC Harris. It also forecast a jump of up to 6.5 per cent in materials prices.

Scots into Europe

Scottish Amicable, the life insurer, is setting up an offshore subsidiary, probably in Dublin or Luxembourg, to sell to Continental European investors. J Rothschild Assurance, in which ScotAm has a 20 per cent stake, will have a 10 per cent holding in the new venture.

Portuguese limits

Portugal will limit foreign shareholdings in fully privatised companies to 25 per cent, except in special cases where a higher ceiling is set. Until now the government has set limits on foreign stakes in privatised firms on a case by case basis.

New car sales soar

New motor vehicles registered in November 1993 totalled 152,000, a rise of 17 per cent on the same month in 1992, according to figures published by the Department of Transport.

World Markets

New York: A burst of buying in blue chips pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by 5.06 points to another record close of 3,803.88.

Tokyo: Moving ahead in late trading, the Nikkei average ended 98.51 higher at 17,881.99.

Sydney: Active overseas buying helped the All Ordinaries index to 2,200.3, a gain of 6.9 points.

Bombay: The account ended strongly, with the index showing a 52.8-point gain at 3,506.88.

Johannesburg: Gains by industrials partly offset a dip in gold stocks, leaving the overall index 24 points lower at 5,062.

Paris: Recovering most of the previous day's losses, the CAC-40 index rose 25.51 to 2,275.06.

Frankfurt: Moderate trade took the DAX down 13.19 to 2,220.22.

Zurich: Still setting records, the Swiss Performance Index added 11.72 points to 1,914.38.

London: Report, page 28.