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Virgin sells games stake for dollars 25m

Virgin has sold 15 per cent of its games company, Virgin Interactive Entertainment, for dollars 25m to Hasbro, the world's largest toy manufacturer. VIE, one of the fastest-growing parts of the Virgin group, has an annual turnover of more than dollars 100m.

A joint venture will be established within VIE to develop and market Hasbro product lines including Scrabble, the Playskool range, Jurassic Park and Batman.

Maxwell sale

Another big piece of the publishing empire of the late Robert Maxwell was sold yesterday, with the disposal of the 50 per cent stake the Macmillan group held in America's largest textbook publisher, Macmillan/McGraw Hill School Publishing. McGraw Hill, Macmillan's partner in the venture, said it would pay dollars 337.5m to take full control of the joint venture. Bids are being solicited for Macmillan itself, which is worth between dollars 700m and dollars 1bn.

Agnew advises SIB

Jonathan Agnew, former chief executive of Kleinwort Benson, has joined the Securities and Investments Board for four months as an adviser on equity markets regulation policy. The appointment is part of the SIB's implementation of the Andrew Large review, which began yesterday with a reorganisation of the management structure.

Homes rise forecast

Homeowners expect house prices to rise an average 1.43 per cent nationally over the next six months, according to a confidence index compiled by Britannia Building Society.

EC inflation rises

The annual rate of inflation in the EC rose to 3.5 per cent in July from 3.3 per cent in June - the first increase in more than a year. Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal were worst affected.

US jobless rate up

Initial jobless claims for regular US state unemployment benefits rose 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 332,000 for the week ended 21 August from 324,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Courtaulds sued

Flamemaster Corporation is seeking dollars 75m damages from Courtaulds Aerospace in a suit alleging breach of contract, unfair trade practices and fraud. Courtaulds said the suit was without foundation and would be vigorously defended.

Wine firm folds

The Hungerford Wine Company, a well-known UK independent wine merchant specialising in wines from France and based in Hungerford, Berkshire, has gone into voluntary liquidation.

ITN

It was ITV companies that attempted to move News at Ten, not ITN itself as the story of 24 August implied. Mark Young, who has left the company, was not in charge of franchise applications, while Mervyn Hall's title is Chief Editor Radio, rather than head of input resources.

UK holiday blues

(First Edition)

More than 40 per cent of Britons cannot afford a summer holiday this year and fewer plan to take out loans, according to a quarterly Gallup poll for Barclaycard. The average amount being spent by those who can afford a holiday is pounds 380, about the same as last year.

World Markets

New York: A burst of late program selling erased small earlier gains to leave the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 3.91 points at 3,648.18 by the close.

Tokyo: The weaker yen revived sentiment, taking the Nikkei average 70.31 higher to 20,591.76.

Hong Kong: Shares surged more than 2.5 per cent on bargain-hunting and other factors. The Hang Seng, at 7,449.08, was 183.5 better.

Sydney: News Corporation led the market higher, with the All Ordinaries index up 18.9 at 1,941.5.

Bombay: Selling pressure from speculators and institutions reduced gains, leaving the index 1.25 points firmer at 2,678.48.

Johannesburg: Foreign demand for De Beers boosted a dull market. The index added 10 points to 4,055.

Paris: The bourse powered its way to a record closing high, with the CAC-40 index up 14.3 at 2,173.61.

Frankfurt: Closing before the interest rate announcement, the DAX was 16.63 lower at 1,901.15.

Milan: Recovering from falls in early afternoon, the MIB ended 1.11 per cent to the good at 1,371.

London: Report, page 32.

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