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Macy's agrees to merger

Macy's, the US department store group, has agreed to merge with Federated Department Stores, owner of Bloomingdale's, in a move that could see the legendary retailer out of bankruptcy by early next year.

Macy's has been operating under bankruptcy for two and half years, and had hoped to re- emerge as an independent company. The merged company would be the largest department store group in the US, with annual sales of more than dollars 13.5bn.

NatWest US rise

NatWest Bancorp, the clearing bank's US subsidiary, reported net income of dollars 138.8m in the first half, compared with dollars 130.5m a year earlier.

Guinness scheme

Guinness may shed more than a third of its 1,400 workforce in Dublin over the next six years by lowering the qualifying age for voluntary redundancy to include those aged 50.

Construction up

Construction orders from the private sector rose in the second quarter, according to the Building Employers' Confederation.

Mozer settles

Paul Mozer, former head of Salomon's government securities trading, agreed to pay dollars 1.1m to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission's civil charges related to a treasury bond bidding scandal. He has also agreed to be permanently barred from associating with any broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer or investment adviser.

Alliance cuts charges

Alliance & Leicester is to cut annual overdraft charges on its new current account to 9.5 per cent. Its decision means all four largest building societies have now cut agreed overdraft charges on some accounts.

Digital cost

Digital Equipment Corporation, the US computer company, will take a charge of dollars 1.2bn in the fourth quarter to cover restructuring and 20,000 planned job losses.

BT approved

BT has received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission for its dollars 4.3bn acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in MCI Communications.

Ideal result

Three directors of Ideal Hardware, the computer equipment distributor, will share pounds 4.3m when the company they founded joins the stock market later this month. Shares are to be placed with institutions at 225p, equating to an initial market value of pounds 47.5m.

Magnum plan

(First Edition)

Magnum Power Solutions, a manufacturer of advanced power supply units for personal computers, plans to seek a listing on to join the USM. It will raise pounds 5m.

Piece of Mosaic

(First Edition)

Mosaic Investments, the mini-conglomerate, is hiving off Fred Flintstone, the Pink Panther, the Thunderbirds and a dozen other characters for which it owns merchandising licences by floating Copyright Promotions, the merchandising subsidiary.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: High-technology stocks led the market charge and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was showing a 34.97-point gain at 3,739.25.

Tokyo: The yen's fall against the dollar prompted buying of selected blue chips. The Nikkei average gained 177.63 to 20,718.04.

Hong Kong: Shares came well off their highs to leave the Hang Seng 20.63 firmer at 8,808.28.

Sydney: Higher futures prices helped the All Ordinaries index to 2,007.7, a gain of 29.1 points.

Bombay: The last day of the account saw the index surrender 30.28 points to 4,101.24.

Johannesburg: Improved sentiment, with demand from local and overseas buyers, lifted the overall index 31 points to 5,505.

Frankfurt: In quiet, narrow- range trade the DAX index edged up 1.62 points to 2,055.62.

Zurich: Steady bond markets prompted strong gains, with the SPI 28.85 to the good at 1,678.11.

Paris: Closed (Bastille Day).

Milan: Prices moved sharply higher on the budget statement.

London: Report, page 32.

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