Business and City in Brief

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Merger costs hit Viacom

Viacom reported results that for the first time included Paramount Communications, revealing merger-related costs of dollars 332m and operating losses at both the Paramount studio and its publishing subsidiary, Simon & Shuster. After tax, Viacom's loss for the three months ending 31 March was dollars 454m, or dollars 3.59 a share, despite a one-off gain of dollars 267m from the sale of its stake in the Lifetime cable television network in the US.

Viacom's own divisions performed relatively well, particularly its MTV cable channels group, which saw revenues rise 30 per cent to dollars 173m and profits 21 per cent to dollars 55m.

Fox interacts

Twentieth Century Fox, News Corporation's film studio unit, said it was launching a new division aimed at creating video game and interactive CD-ROM products based on films and characters created by the studio.

BZW closure

BZW, the investment bank, is closing its Latin American equities operation with the loss of four staff in London and two in New York. A spokesman said: 'Our approach to Latin America has not produced the level of success hoped for, largely because of the high level of activity in other markets.'

New GM vehicle

The Hughes Electronics division of General Motors plans to launch a satellite television entertainment system delivering sport, pay-for-view movies and events on demand. Two satellites will feed up to 150 channels of programming, Hughes said.

Volvo ahead

Volvo, the Swedish car maker, said its car sales were ahead 25 per cent so far this year. The company said the largest increase was in France, where sales rose 77 per cent.

Swan layoffs

A total of 237 workers at Swan Hunter, the shipbuilder on the Tyne, were told yesterday they were to be laid off. On Thursday 148 more will be made redundant, leaving fewer than 600 on the payroll.

Korea move

Schroders Investment Management said it has become the first foreign investment house to open a representative office in Korea.

Celltech deals

The biotechnology company Celltech Group said its Biologics unit had signed manufacturing contracts worth a total of up to pounds 1.85m with Bristol-Myers Squibb and AB Astra.


New York: Share prices gyrated as double witching cast its spell, but the Dow Jones Average recouped early losses to end 7.37 points to the good at 3,766.35.

Tokyo: The Nikkei average moved up 120.83 points to 20,342.17 on the back of Wall Street's gains and yen weakness.

Hong Kong: Renewed bargain- hunting carried the Hang Seng index up nearly 3 per cent, closing 276.65 higher at 9,631.63.

Sydney: A rebound in futures prices boosted the market, with the All Ordinaries index 10.2 points firmer at 2,103.9.

Bombay: Institutional buying took shares off lows, leaving the index 33.09 weaker at 3,775.68.

Johannesburg: A late rebound inspired by an improvement in the gold price left the overall index 34 points better at 5,474.

Paris: A volatile session ahead of the long weekend took the CAC- 40 index 9.92 lower to 2,155.43.

Frankfurt: Quiet trading dominated by options expiry left the DAX 1.89 ahead at 2,249.65.

Zurich: The Swiss Performance Index lost most of its gains towards the close to finish only 3.66 points in front at 1,788.43.

London: Report, page 18.