Business and City in Brief

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Abbey adjusts mortgage rates

Abbey National has cut the interest rate on its five- and two-year fixed-rate mortgages, while its three-year rate is going up. The five-year rate for people moving home drops from 8.75 to 8.58 per cent, while the remortgaging rate falls from 9.5 to 9.33 per cent.

The three-year rate for movers rises from 7.8 to 7.98 per cent, and the remortgage rate from 8.5 to 8.68 per cent.

BCCI fraud plea

The former BCCI chief executive Swaleh Naqvi pleaded guilty in Washington yesterday to three charges of fraud and conspiracy stemming from his role in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal. Naqvi had been detained in Pakistan since the bank, with nearly dollars 24bn of assets and operating in 71 countries, was shut down three years ago amid allegations it engaged in the largest bank fraud ever.

Xenova offer

Xenova, the Slough-based pharmaceutical company specialising in small molecule drugs derived from natural micro-organisms, is making a public offering of 1.25 million American Depository Share units at a price of dollars 8 each on the US Nasdaq market.

APV opens in China

APV, the food manufacturing equipment maker, has set up APV China, its first Chinese manufacturing subsidiary, operating from a factory on the outskirts of Peking. It will produce hygienic butterfly valves for the dairy, brewery, soft drink and juice markets for Chinese and other Asian markets.

Argent funding

Argent, the recently floated property group, has secured forward funding from British Airways' pension fund for the first of nine office buildings on a

17-acre site in central Birmingham.

Canada purchase

Hammerson, the property company, has bought three shopping centres in Canada for a total consideration of pounds 75m. The centres will generate an initial yield of 9.7 per cent.

Fox split in two

News Corp said it would split its Fox subsidiary into two divisions following the resignation of Lucie Salhany as chairman of Fox Broadcasting. It said that Fox's two arms - Fox Television and Twentieth Century Fox - would now operate separately and report directly to News Corp's chairman, Rupert Murdoch.

Gosforth bid accepted

Gosforth Park has recommended a takeover bid from Northern Racing that values the company at about pounds 3.4m. The offer of pounds 37 a share in cash has been irrevocably accepted by shareholders representing 42.3 per cent of the company's capital.

World Markets

New York: Shares shrugged off the payroll figures and the dollar's weakness and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 20.72 points up at 3,709.14.

Tokyo: Exporters remained under pressure from profit-taking after recent gains. The Nikkei average fell 93.51 to 20,526.91.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index closed near the day's low at 8,432.96, down 57.9 points.

Sydney: A partial recovery in BHP shares helped the All Ordinaries index to record a 2.7-point advance, closing at 1,964.9.

Bombay: Late profit-taking restricted the gain on the index to 28.04 points at 4,076.65.

Johannesburg: Most stocks ended softer as weaker bullion lowered sentiment. The overall index eased two points to 5,405.

Paris: Wall Street's opening pulled the market lower, but the CAC-40 index recovered to end just 0.03 weaker at 1,920.78.

Frankfurt: A day of narrow-range trading took the DAX index up seven points to 2,043.98.

Zurich: Bond market weakness was once more a factor as the Swiss Performance Index gave up 16.84 points to 1,702.11.

London: Report page 13.

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