Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
US BANK SETS UP IN CHESTER

MBNA, the US bank that specialises in issuing credit cards, is to establish its European headquarters in Chester, creating more than 800 jobs over five years.

The project, which will cost pounds 43m, including a pounds 7m grant from the Department of Trade and Industry, will be the largest US investment in the UK for three years.

MBNA, based in Newark, Delaware, is the second-largest credit- card lender in the US.

HEATHROW LINK

BAA, the airports operator, yesterday signed final agreements with the British Railways Board for work on the pounds 300m Heathrow Express link from Paddington.

SALOMON STAKE

Warren Buffett, the Nebraskan billionaire who led Salomon Brothers out of the US Treasury scandal two years ago, plans to increase his stake in the Wall Street securities firm. Mr Buffett, who is already Salomon Inc's largest shareholder with 14.3 per cent, sought clearance to raise his holding in the parent company to just under 25 per cent.

HYDRO-ELECTRIC GAS

Hydro-Electric, one of two Scottish electricity companies, is to enter the gas supply market through a joint venture with Marathon Oil of the US. Scottish Power and several electricity supply companies in England and Wales have already entered the gas market through joint ventures.

DIXONS' SLIP

Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons Group, was paid pounds 562,675 last year, a drop of pounds 434 on the year. Dixons' profits before tax fell from pounds 50.1m to pounds 33.5m and it had to raid reserves to pay the dividend. Overall, the directors' salary bill fell 15 per cent to pounds 1,329,000, largely because there was one fewer director.

GPG DOWN UNDER

Guinness Peat Group said that its ordinary shares will be listed in Australia, probably after the announcement of the company's results for the six months ended 30 June, scheduled for next Monday.

JAPANESE IMPORT

Japan may have to import rice for the first time in 10 years, following its unseasonably wet, cold summer.

STANDARD APPEAL

Standard Chartered is seeking an appeal against the decision to grant Price Waterhouse a new trial over Standard's purchase of United Bank of Arizona in 1987. Last year an Arizona jury awarded Standard dollars 342m stemming from audit work that PW did relating to United.

MARLBORO IN CHINA

Philip Morris said it had signed an agreement with China National Tobacco Corp to produce Marlboro cigarettes for the Chinese market.

GM MEETING

Gunter Rexrodt, the German Finance Minister, will meet members of General Motors' European board to discuss its claims of industrial espionage by Volkswagen.

VW shares fall, page 23

BOEING SUPPORT

(First Edition)

The Export-Import Bank has promised Boeing dollars 6.2bn in financing to help it in its drive to win a huge jet order from Saudi Arabia. The national carrier may buy up to 80 US jetliners worth as much as dollars 8bn.

FERRUZZI DELAY

(First Edition)

A Milan court has postponed until the end of August a final decision on an injunction to sequestrate up to 3,000bn lire of assets owned by the Ferruzzi family and ex-managers of Ferruzzi Finanziaria.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Led by technology and transport shares, the market recovered from an uncertain start. By the close the Dow Jones was up 9.5 points at 3,579.15.

HONG KONG: Buying by overseas institutional investors helped the Hang Seng index rise 97.24 points to a new record high of 7,489.49.

SINGAPORE: The Straits Times Industrial index closed 5.02 points higher at 1,922.89.

TOKYO: Prices closed higher on renewed optimism of a further easing of monetary policy, with futures- linked dealings pulling the market up from morning lows. The Nikkei 225 index closed up 156.32 points at 20,901.49.

SYDNEY: Bargain-hunting in the gold sector and renewed local buying support pushed the All Ordinaries index up 14.8 points to 1,870.7.

FRANKFURT: Profit-taking trimmed earlier gains. The DAX index closed 5.61 points higher at 1,912.19.

MILAN: Italian shares rose on short- covering. The MIB index closed 0.69 per cent higher at 1,305.

ZURICH: Share prices closed higher, with the blue-chip Swiss Market index up 17.9 at 2,478.9.

PARIS: Closed for holiday.

LONDON: Report, page 22

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