Rival gas suppliers fear that British Gas could increase charges for the use of its pipelines by 30 per cent, resulting in a knock-on effect to their customers. British Gas denied that it has discussed specific increases in these charges with the gas industry regulator, Ofgas.
Ofgas is due to publish imminently a report on new pricing for the pipeline system, to come into effect in October.
Credit in demand
Credit applications rose rapidly in March, suggesting that consumers were unperturbed by last month's impending tax increases, according to Infolink, the credit information group. Retail credit rose 9.4 per cent between March 1993 and March 1994.
Nissan appeal fails
Former Nissan UK managing director Michael Hunt lost an appeal against his conviction and eight-year jail sentence for his part in a pounds 55m corporation tax fraud. 'Those who indulge in fraud on anything like this scale are playing for very high stakes,' Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said in the Court of Appeal.
Touche Ross, liquidators to the collapsed Bank of Commerce and Credit International are suing the bank's directors through the Luxembourg courts for failing in their duties.
Guardian, the insurer formerly known as Guardian Royal Exchange, will lose about 30 per cent of its life insurance business when Nationwide Building Society sets up its own life business next year.
Blagden, the packaging and chemicals group, launched a five-for-nine rights issue at 105p to raise about pounds 25.8m.
Hanson, the Anglo-American conglomerate, has sold a portfolio of properties for pounds 85m as part of its debt reduction programme. The purchaser, O&H Properties, was funded by GE Capital.
Shops for sale
J Laing confirmed it was negotiating the sale of its Castlecourt shopping centre in Belfast to MEPC.
The European Court of Justice has ruled that gaming machine operators should not pay VAT on winnings paid out to players.
The Bank of England has charged John Dennison, formerly a partner with chartered accountants Geo H Jackson, with the unauthorised acceptance of deposits under section 42 of the 1979 Banking Act. Also charged are Margaret Dennison and Helen Dix.
Air Traffic falls
British Airways said that an erly Easter, lower capacity growth and the IRA mortar attacks had combined to slow April traffic growth to 4.1 per cent compared with the same result last year.
New York: In slow trading shares failed to hold their best levels and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.78 at 3,695.97.
Tokyo: Closed (holiday).
Hong Kong: The four-day slide ended with buying interest from US institutions and a 43.44 gain by the Hang Seng to 8,412.88.
Sydney: Worries about how the government will finance its new job creation programme helped to send the All Ordinaries index down 30.3 points to 1,988.1.
Bombay: The index, which has fallen almost 16 per cent since the budget in February, edged up 13.76 to 3,614.24 on hopes of an end to the forward trading ban.
Johannesburg: Profit-taking lowered the overall index 22 points to 5,231 in subdued trade.
Frankfurt: Quiet trade left the DAX 13.18 easier at 2,235.84.
Paris: Shares moved higher after the Bank of France lowered its intervention rate. The CAC-40 index gained 21.05 to 2,162.62.
Milan: Fiat led shares higher but lost its own gains in late trading.
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