Business and City In Brief

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The Independent Online
Walker charged on fifth count

George Walker, former chief executive of the leisure and property group Brent Walker, was charged with conspiracy to falsify company accounts. The charge, relating to pounds 18.5m, comes on top of four made in January of theft and false accounting.

The former Brent Walker finance director, Wilfrid Aquilina, was charged with false accounting and conspiracy. Both were remanded on bail until 4 June.

UK reserves fall

Britain's foreign currency reserves fell by an underlying dollars 1.74bn to dollars 41.58bn, reflecting repayments of marks lent by the Bundesbank during last September's unsuccessful attempt to defend sterling inside the European exchange rate mechanism. The Treasury said the underlying fall came after receipt of dollars 77m in British Telecom privatisation proceeds and the transfer of dollars 54m of gold to Latvia.

Pounds 400m BP development

British Petroleum, the oil giant, is to develop the Forth field in the North Sea at a cost of pounds 400m. The company, which has a 70 per cent stake in the venture, said the project will create 500 jobs in the UK next year, with two thirds of orders going to local companies. The field, 220 miles north-east of Aberdeen, contains 185 million barrels of oil. Production is scheduled to start in 1996.

KLM confirms merger

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines confirmed that it will merge with three other European airlines by 1997 to create a jumbo airline with projected sales of dollars 13bn, based on 1991 figures, and carrying 30 million passengers.

Japan's surplus up 8%

Japan recorded a trade surplus of dollars 11.81bn in February, up 8 per cent on a year earlier and the 23rd consecutive monthly year-on-year rise.

Daimler results

Daimler-Benz reported 1992 net profits down 26 per cent to DM1.45bn on improved sales of DM96bn. Its subsidiary, Mercedes- Benz, is expected to announce on Monday plans to build a car production plant in the US, either in North or South Carolina.

German sales fall

Wholesale sales in western Germany were DM72bn in February, down 5 per cent in real terms and 8 per cent in nominal terms from the same month last year.

Fokker profits plunge

A change in accounting procedures at the Dutch aerospace giant Fokker contributed to a fall in 1992 profits to 20m guilders from 77m a year earlier. Net sales rose to 4.08bn guilders from 3.8bn.

Court scalps VW

A Frankfurt court ordered Volkswagen to stop 'strategically head- hunting' executives from the rival car giants Opel and GM or face a fine of up to DM500,000.

Reprieve for Control

Control Securities, the property and leisure group, said a standstill agreement with its main banks has been extended until 28 April. It announced a pre-tax loss of pounds 68.7m in the six months to 30 September after writing down its property portfolio.

World Markets

New York: Renewed inflation fears and the extremely sharp fall in the shares of Philip Morris pushed the Dow Jones Average down 72.41 points to 3,367.03 by the close.

Tokyo: The Nikkei Average soared 347.85 to 19,446.94 in the heaviest turnover in more than three years, led by gains in the communications and cable sectors.

Hong Kong: Profit-taking left the Hang Seng index 4.44 lower at 6,404.44.

Sydney: Strength in Tokyo helped the All Ordinaries index to improve 14.30 to 1,683.1.

Johannesburg: Gold shares ended at their best levels, with the index up 41 at 1,232.

Milan: Continuing political uncertainty depressed the MIB index 1.04 per cent to 1,049.

Frankfurt: Worries about the economy lowered the DAX index 9.83 to 1,661,75 in thin volume.

Zurich: The SPI index edged 0.6 per cent higher to 1,343.7.

Paris: Profit-taking pushed the CAC-40 index 15.07 lower to 1,990.82.

London: Report, page 19.