Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Developers in County Hall move Frogmore Estates has teamed up with Galliard Homes, the Docklands residential developer, to acquire the rear sections of London's County Hall not already bought by Far Eastern investors planning a joint hotel venture with Richard Branson's Virgin.

The pounds 17.5m purchase from the London Residuary Body will be completed next March when work will begin on 700,000 sq ft of one- and two- bedroom flats. Prices for the apartments, five minutes' walk from the Houses of Parliament, will range between pounds 90,000 and pounds 150,000.

Walker jury still out The jury in the trial of George Walker and Wilfred Aquilina spent its third night at a hotel after failing to agree a verdict yesterday. Their fourth day of deliberations continues today.

Gas deal Kinetica, a leading independent gas supply company, is to purchase gas worth pounds 200m from the North Sea Gawain field, operated by Arco British.

Kinetica, a joint venture between Conoco and PowerGen, said the deal demonstrated its commitment to the independent British gas market and provided additional security of supply to customers.

Vickers cuts jobs Vickers, the defence and automotive group, plans to cut 235 jobs at factories in Leeds and Newcastle. The company said that the job losses would be among management, supervisory and support staff and not the direct manufacturing workforce. The two plants involved make armoured fighting vehicles.

Smith picks up Trading at WH Smith has improved since August after a slow start partly caused by an unusually hot and sunny summer. Trading in the second half will benefit from record capital spending of pounds 140m, the chairman told the annual meeting. A large part of this was invested in the first half.

Java venture British Gas will head a consortium to build a dollars 350m power station in West Java. The 400mw combined-cycle power plant will be designed, built and operated under British Gas management in partnership with its US affiliate Gas Ventures Advisers and a local firm, PT Bakrie Power Corporation.

SmithKline axe SmithKline Beecham is to shed 80 jobs at its plant at Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Thorn purchase Thorn EMI's subsidiary EMI Music has completed the acquisition of Star Song Communications, an independent Contemporary Christian music company based in Nashville, Tennessee, for a dollars 15.5m.

WORLD MARKETS New York: A steady stream of strong corporate results lifted share prices.

The Dow Jones average closed 18.50 points higher at 3,936.04.

Tokyo: Half-hearted trade took stocks lower, with the Nikkei average losing 123.53 to 19,868.87.

Hong Kong: Fears about the shaky Chinese economy helped to send the Hang Seng index down 98.51 points to 9,320.06.

Sydney: Late bargain-hunting gave the All Ordinaries index a 10-point boost to 2,013.4.

Bombay: The index eased 13.21 points to 4,322.69, bringing its three-day losses to 63.74.

Johannesburg: With gold steady and industrials firm, the overall index added nine points to 5,691.

Paris: Receding hopes of an early cut in interest rates were a factor in a 22.29-point decline to 1,876.31 by the CAC-40 index.

Frankfurt: Falling bonds and the weaker dollar sent the DAX index 33.6 lower to 2,051.16.

Zurich: Sharp losses sustained by UBS and Roche led the SPI down 8.35 points to 1,676.05.

London: Report, page 34.

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