Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Staff pension fund performed worst

An unnamed staff pension scheme of a large insurance company was the worst-performing fund of non-property assets last year, according to CAPS, the pension fund performance firm. The internally managed fund of nearly pounds 1bn grew by only 19.7 per cent last year, which saw outstanding growth in world stock markets.

Excluding property, the median return for pension funds was 29.3 per cent. The top-performing fund in this category grew by 48.3 per cent.

French eye Swan

Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie, the French shipbuilder, will bid for Swan Hunter, the Tyneside shipyard, provided it can win a key contract from the Ministry of Defence. Swan Hunter, which went into receivership last May, runs out of work later this year and is expected today to submit a bid to refit the landing and supply ship, Sir Bedivere.

Less in unit trusts

Net sales of unit trusts were pounds 722m in February, of which the public accounted for pounds 530m and institutions the remaining pounds 192m. Sales in January were pounds 490m and in the previous February were pounds 580m. However, the value of total funds under management fell from pounds 99.9bn in January to pounds 98.9bn last month as a result of the downturn in the UK and many other international markets.

Joint accountants

The six accountancy institutes must merge if the profession is to re-establish its status, according to a report by a working party on the profession's future, published yesterday. The report recommends the creation of three bodies - for Scotland, Ireland and England & Wales - and says all accountants should be called chartered.

Cowie's cash

Sir Tom Cowie, who retired as chairman of the motor group that bears his name at the beginning of the year, was paid pounds 314,130 in settlement of his service contract, according to Cowie's annual report, published yesterday.

RBS vice-chairman

Sir Iain Vallance has been appointed vice-chairman of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Sir Iain, aged 50, chairman of BT, became a director of the group and the bank on 14 January 1993. He succeeds Charles Winter.

Ford's China drive

Ford is forming a joint venture in China with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation to produce components for the Chinese vehicle industry. It is Ford's first manufacturing venture in China.

World Markets

New York: In moderate trading the Dow Jones average was up 6.91 points at 3,869.46 by the close as the market digested the interest rate increase.

Tokyo: Continued selling in thin trade sliced 291.43 points off the Nikkei average to 19,962.1.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunting and short-covering took the Hang Seng up 5 per cent with a 453.36-point surge to 9,465.53.

Sydney: An active session ahead of today's expiry of options boosted the All Ordinaries index 40.1 points to 2,180.9.

Bombay: The fall on the index since the beginning of the month reached 15 per cent as it lost another 68.51 points to 3,723.19.

Johannesburg: Heavy losses in a nervous market sent the overall index down 48 points to 5,183.

Frankfurt: In quiet trade the DAX index moved up 19.79 points to close at 2,161.13.

Paris: With sentiment still at a low level, the CAC-40 index eased 0.51 of a point to 2,200.17.

Zurich: The US move on interest rates calmed the market after its recent volatility. The Swiss Performance Index moved up 16.14 points to 1,838.59.

London: Report, page 36.