Business and City in Brief

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French bank sues council

Credit Commercial de France has issued a writ against the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham claiming back an unspecified amount paid to the council for swap transactions.

Two years ago the House of Lords ruled that the council was not liable for losses it incurred as the deals were ultra vires. CCF claims it was misled about the council's abilities to enter into swap transactions.

BT in Belgium?

The Belgian state-owned telephone and telecommunications company, Belgacom, is to search for a partner for its international telephone business. Bessel Kok, chief executive, said the ideal partner would be a large group such as American Telephone and Telegraph or British Telecommunications.

Oil record

Oil produced from Europe's North Sea fields hit a record 5.078 million barrels a day last month, up 2.2 per cent from October, according to analysts at the stockbroker Wood Mackenzie. The rise, at a time when oil prices were falling, reflects record production from Norway and Denmark and increased production from the Netherlands.

No takers for Disney

A block of Fr180m of Euro Disney debt offered on the secondary market in London last week failed to find a buyer, according to the French business daily La Tribune Desfosses. It said that a number of banks were trying to sell their Euro Disney loans at 55 per cent of face value.

Rate cuts please

The European Commission's vice-president, Henning Christophersen, called for fresh European interest rate cuts and said Europe was on track for economic recovery, in an interview with the Lisbon daily Diario de Noticias. 'Further interest rate cuts are needed . . . but this can only happen in the presence of good macro-economic policies aimed at stability,' he said.

America West bid

America West Airlines has received an offer from the New York money manager Michael Steinhardt to invest dollars 250m in the company. The investment would be more than enough to bring the airline out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Russia privatises

Russia has opened an auction for shares in its biggest oil company, Surgutneftegaz, allowing people to swap privatisation vouchers distributed last year for a stake in the group. More than 3.6 million shares, with a face value of 1,000 roubles, are on offer.

Chinese reforms

Chinese foreign trade firms will no longer be obliged to hand over foreign exchange earnings under currency reforms set for 1994, the foreign trade minister, Wu Yi, said.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips set a new record amid optimism about the economy and strong overseas markets. Oil stocks led the way. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 35.21 points to 3,792.93.

Kuala Lumpur: The stock exchange index gained 26.82 points to 1,205.28, its fourth consecutive record close.

Tokyo: Doubts about the government's ability to revive the Japanese economy sent shares plunging. The Nikkei 225 index dived 321.33 points to 16,819.88.

Frankfurt: Small futures-linked buy orders and buying by domestic fund managers lifted shares. The DAX index rose 31.14 points to a record close of 2,253.98.

Milan: Positive signs in other European markets nudged the Mibtel index up 46 points to 10,765.

Paris: The CAC-40 index set new intraday and closing highs for the third session in a row. It finished 25.07 points higher at 2,276.55 after setting a new all-time record of 2,284.19 in the final hour of trading.

London: Report, this page.

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