Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
IBM SHARES SURGE ON PROFIT HOPES

Shares of International Business Machines surged in anticipation of the announcement today of its first quarterly profit in almost two years, expected to top dollars 500m.

The fourth quarter traditionally accounts for as much as 40 per cent of IBM's annual income - which made its dollars 10-a- share loss for the final months of 1992 more painful. Many analysts are predicting the quarter will show the first fruits of cost-cutting by Louis Gerstner, who took over as chief executive a year ago.

INSURANCE GO-AHEAD

Creditors of Bryanston Insurance and Andrew Weir Insurance gave their overwhelming backing to schemes of arrangement that will allow earlier payment of claims than would be likely in a liquidation. Price Waterhouse acts as provisional liquidator to the two insurers.

LLOYD'S OFFER REJECTED

Hopes of an early settlement in the row over Lloyd's of London's pounds 5.5bn losses were dealt a further blow when members of the 1,500- strong Devonshire Names Action Group rejected an offer of pounds 45m compensation for declared losses of pounds 210m.

SOFT DRINKS DEAL

Cadbury Beverages, a unit of Cadbury Schweppes, will produce soft drinks across Europe, excluding the UK, for Cotts Corporation of Canada under a five- year agreement that also gives Cadbury the option to acquire a 49 per cent stake in Cotts' European subsidiary. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

DTI PENSIONS ADVICE

The Department of Trade and Industry has written to life insurers, suggesting they should consider whether they need to make provision to take account of the compensation payable to the wrongly advised clients of independent financial advisers.

NEWSPAPER LISTING

Midland Independent Newspapers, one of the country's biggest regional newspaper publishers, is to seek a stock market listing in March. The group owns 43 titles and had a turnover of pounds 80m in 1993. The issue is expected to raise about pounds 100m.

STEMPEL SWITCHES ON

Robert Stempel, 60, chairman of General Motors until he was forced to resign in December 1992, plans to return to the automotive business as head of a new company that will build electric vehicles, Automotive News said.

20bn POUNDS CREDIT SPREE

Shoppers spent a record pounds 20bn using credit and debit card bills in 1993, Barclays Merchant Services said. Last-minute Christmas shoppers made 17 million purchases, 40 per cent more than in 1992.

SHARE SPLIT APPROVED

(First Edition)

Union des Assurances de Paris said shareholders approved a previously-announced plan to split its shares in three as one of a number of measures to prepare the company for privatisation. They also approved a capital increase by incorporating reserves and a proposal to change the insurer's name to Compagnie UAP after privatisation.

VISA OLYMPIC TRIAL

(First Edition)

Competitors at the Winter Olympic Games will be among the first to test-market a new pre-paid card from Visa International. They will be given the Visa Olympic Money card for cash withdrawals in Norwegian kroner, 24 hours a day at any Visa automatic teller machine in Norway. There will be 20 Visa ATMs in the Olympic host city of Lillehammer. Each competitor will receive a card worth 1,000 kroner.

ITALY IN THE RED

(First Edition)

Italy had a December balance of payments deficit of L2,305bn (pounds 925m) against a surplus of L12,935bn a year earlier, the Italian exchange office said. For the 12 months to December, it posted a surplus of L2,114bn against a 1992 deficit of L32,548bn.

AIRLINES CUT FARES

(First Edition)

Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will cut fares from the US to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa by up to 30 per cent on spring, summer and some autumn travel.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Computerised sell programmes depressed shares, and by early afternoon the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.69 points at 3,912.79.

TOKYO: Japan's political turmoil panicked investors and sent the Nikkei average diving 954.19 - almost 5 per cent - to 18,353.24.

HONG KONG: The Hang Seng rose 140.72 points to 11,600.09.

SYDNEY: Under pressure from the sliding gold price, the All Ordinaries lost 25.8 to 2,224.5.

BOMBAY: Renewed buying on the part of foreign institutions helped the index to a 100.66- point gain, closing at 3,853.17.

JOHANNESBURG: Gold shares held up relatively well, but general sentiment was poor. The overall index dipped 45 points to 4,739.

PARIS: Recovering from early lows on fresh hopes of interest rate cuts, the CAC-40 index finished 30.52 better at 2,274.49.

FRANKFURT: Volatile trade took the DAX up 4.4 to 2,080.01.

ZURICH: Consolidating in the absence of any new factors, the SPI eased 0.36 to 1,935.29.

MILAN: Interest centred on the manufacturing sector as shares moved higher in active trade.

LONDON: Report, page 26.

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