Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
ABBEY INSURANCE PREMIUMS SOAR

Abbey National is increasing its household insurance premiums by an average of 26 per cent from the start of next month to cover the rising cost of theft. The rises will take effect from the date that policies are renewed.

Customers whose renewal date falls between May and the end of the year will also pay the 10 per cent increase in premiums announced in December last year, taking the total average rise to 37 per cent.

ADIDAS STAKE

Seba, a unit of Credit Lyonnais's industrial investment arm, Clinvest, has paid DM30m ( pounds 12m) for a 4.9 per cent stake in Adidas AG, the German sportswear group. The shares represented the remaining stake of the founding Dassler family. Clinvest owns 19.9 per cent of Adidas International Holding, which controls about 95 per cent of Adidas AG.

GOLD PROMISE

Helmut Schlesinger, the Bundesbank president, said the German central bank would not sell its gold reserves to finance the reconstruction of east Germany.

GPG BUYS ASC

Guinness Peat Group has offered to buy 64 per cent of ASC, an Australian fund manager, for Adollars 10.2m ( pounds 4.7m). GPG already owns the other 36 per cent of ASC, which is listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange. The offer price is Adollars 0.40 (18p) a share, the same as the company's closing price on 2 April.

CARD PRESSURE

Barclays Bank is asking thousands of small retailers to instal electronic card-checking machines at pounds 35 a month or face an 8 per cent increase in the amount they are charged for each credit card purchase - about 10p on the average transaction of pounds 50. The high street banks are known to be unhappy with their profits from processing credit card transactions, but Barclays also hopes that electronic checking will reduce fraud.

NAMES SOLD

Farepak, the Christmas hamper company, has paid pounds 8.5m for the names and addresses held by the Littlewoods mail order business for 20 years. At the same time it acquired Littlewoods Hampers, the operation Farepak mirrors.

FRENCH STAND GROUND

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, kept alive the threat to international trade talks when he told EC partners that the new French government's position on a farm trade deal with the US remained the same as its predecessor.

KUWAIT OIL THREAT

Kuwait said it plans to raise oil output capacity to 2.5 million barrels per day in June to support its demand for a larger production quota within Opec. Under the last Opec accord, Kuwait reluctantly agreed to a daily output level of 1.6 million bpd, almost 400,000 bpd below its capacity.

MALAYSIA TALKS

The British and Malaysian governments are to resume negotiations on Malaysia Airlines' request for more air rights over Britain. British Airways is opposed to the request.

OVERSEAS PROJECTS

(First Edition)

The Department of Trade and Industry has reorganised its Overseas Projects Board to focus on individual sectors. The first four sector groups to be established address projects in the power, water, airport and railway sectors.

ANTI-DUMPING DUTIES

(First Edition)

The European Commission said it has imposed provisional anti-dumping duties on imports into the EC of low carbon ferro-chrome from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The move follows an investigation of price undercutting.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: After Friday's heavy sell-off, shares moved narrowly, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 8.38 points at 3,379.19.

TOKYO: With share turnover exceeding one billion for the second day running, the Nikkei average gained 312.52 points to 19,759.46.

HONG KONG: Closed (holiday).

SYDNEY: Stocks in the media and packaging sectors were among the heaviest losers as the All Ordinaries index lost 12.6 points to 1,670.5.

JOHANNESBURG: With a buoyant gold sector but industrial shares easier, the overall index ended 15 points to the good at 3,586.

PARIS: Worries about company results due this week held shares back. The CAC-40 index retreated 16.14 points to 1,974.68.

FRANKFURT: Prices eased in thin, dull trade. The DAX index, at 1,658.69, was 3.06 points lower.

ZURICH: Wall Street's firm opening recouped some early losses. The SPI fell 5.6 points to 1,338.1.

MILAN: A strong showing by telecommunications shares helped the MIB to add 0.76 per cent to 1,057.

LONDON: Report, page 22.

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