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The Independent Online
Nationwide moves ahead by 47%

Nationwide Building Society yesterday reported profits up by 47 per cent to pounds 253m, and forecast a rise in house prices of under 5 per cent this year.

The society cut its provisions against losses by 14.3 per cent to pounds 282.3m. Properties in possession fell from 6,015 to 3,768.

BA Orly warning

British Airways has threatened further battles with the French government to ensure that the airline has full access into Paris's Orly airport. BA is to challenge attempts by the French to restrict the numbers and size of aircraft using the airport in the French and European courts.

Schneider chief freed

Didier Pineau-Valencienne, chairman of the French industrial group Schneider SA, was released from preventive detention yesterday. He had been held in a Brussels prison since 27 May when he was arrested on charges of fraud and swindling in a case arising from complaints filed by minority shareholders in two subsidiaries.

Sprint in Europe

Sprint, the US telecommunications group, confirmed it is discussing forming a 'global partnership' with France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom. Some estimates put the French and German groups' proposed investment at dollars 4bn.

Coal buyouts

Two management buyout teams are to bid for all or part of British Coal. English Coal, advised by Coopers & Lybrand, has been set up by Bob Siddall, director of British Coal Opencast, and David Brewer, British Coal's head of finance. Alan Houghton, director of British Coal's northern group, has formed Northern Coal Company to bid for Yorkshire mines.

Bell resigns

Alan Bell, a director of building materials group Spring Ram, has resigned. The only remaining member associated with the founding management, he will receive compensation for loss of office of about pounds 150,000.

Avesco demerger

Avesco, the television services company, is to demerge its multimedia subsidiary, VideoLogic, through a one-for-one share issue. The demerger will capitalise VideoLogic at about pounds 80m. The new company will also raise around pounds 21m through a share issue.

German cut

Metallgesellschaft plans to cut its workforce from 43,300 to 20,000 after the sale of several subsidiaries.

Take a Gander

(First Edition)

Gander Holdings, a residential property development and investment company specialising in Kensington and Chelsea in London, plans to raise pounds 5m via a placing.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Share prices were pulled lower by weak bonds, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding 12.61 points to close at 3,755.91.

Tokyo: Bargain-hunting after three consecutive losing sessions lifted the Nikkei average 316.06 points to close at 21,042.71.

Hong Kong: The market proved unable to sustain early gains, with the Hang Seng index dipping 135.15 points to 9,247.88.

Sydney: Lack of follow-through buying support saw the All Ordinaries ease 2.3 points to 2,070.2.

Bombay: Investors unwinding positions after recent gains lowered the index 57.73 to 4,033.66.

Johannesburg: A stronger gold price boosted sentiment. The index added 56 points to 5,518.

Frankfurt: Weaker bonds pulled shares down, with the DAX index losing 27.97 points to 2,135.1.

Paris: In a thin, nervous market focusing on the outlook for interest rates, the CAC-40 index retreated 13.41 points to 2,023.74.

Zurich: Profit-taking sent the Swiss Performance Index down 2.19 points to 1,818.84.

Milan: A late rally led by Fiat took shares sharply higher.

London: Report, page 28.

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