Business and City in Brief

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Powell buys Elf gas arm Powell Duffryn, the industrial group, expanded its fuel distribution interests with the acquisition of MB Gas, the UK downstream liquefied petroleum gas distribution arm of Elf Antargaz of France.

The price was not disclosed but Powell said there had been no goodwill payment. Net assets at completion were pounds 5m. MB Gas, with annual sales of pounds 4.5m, operates throughout northern England as MB Gas, while the Home Counties and London are covered through its subsidiary, Propower.

The acquisition will increase Powell Duffryn's LPG volumes traded under the growing Eurogas and Corralgas brands by around 50 per cent.

Salvesen expands Christian Salvesen, the logistics group, expanded its European distribution network with the purchase of a temperature-controlled distribution centre near Utrecht in the Netherlands for pounds 3.7m.

Talks on NBC General Electric Co of the US is expected to renew talks over the next two weeks with companies interested in acquiring all or part of its NBC network.

GE is expected to host sessions with Walt Disney, Turner Broadcasting, Tele-Communications Inc and a group led by ITT.

German growth A report by Germany's six leading economic research institutes forecast that the pan-German economy would grow by 3 per cent in 1995. The prediction in the institutes' autumn report, which is to be published today, was in line with government expectations.

BZW placing BZW Commodities Trust said its placing and offer for subscription closed on 20 October, with applications received for a total of 78,150,200 ordinary shares (with warrants attached on a one-for-five basis) at 100 pence per share.

All applications were allocated in full. The company said it expected dealings to begin on Thursday.

Russia forecast The Russian economy, already reeling from three years of market reforms, will contract further in 1995, but inflation will slow, according to official documents presented to parliament in Moscow. An Economics Ministry forecast said gross domestic product would contract by 6 or 8 per cent next year. Services, long neglected in the old, centralised Soviet economy, would continue to grow.

Volvo in China (First Edition) Volvo appointed Inchcape Motors International as its distributor for north-eastern China.

Man redeemed (First Edition) ED&F Man Group redeemed all of its 1,596,751 issued cumulative convertible restricted voting preference shares of dollars 1 each (first preference shares) and all its 90,000 non-voting cumulative non-convertible preference shares of dollars 1 each (third preference shares).

WORLD MARKETS New York: Stock prices fell sharply, following the bond market lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 36 points at 3,855.30.

Tokyo: Extremely light, cautious trade saw the Nikkei average ease 46.71 to 19,852.37.

Hong Kong: Heavy losses were erased near the close. The Hang Seng, 129 off at one time, closed 15.46 better at 9,354.05.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index edged up 2.7 points to 2,037.4 after the Reserve Bank raised official cash rates.

Bombay: Selective buying in a low-volume market lifted the index 22.73 points to 4,333.25.

Johannesburg: As the recent firm trend ran out of steam the index fell 24 points to 5,751.

Paris: More than 20 points ahead early in the session, the CAC-40 fell back to close half a point lower at 1,841.59.

Frankfurt: Uncertainty about the political situation restricted the gain by the DAX index to 3.16 points at 2,025.38.

Zurich: Underpinned by the steadier dollar and gains on other exchanges, the SPI gained 9.38 points to 1,673.56.

London: Report, page 34.