Business and City in Brief

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Hanson blocks Costain sale

A US federal court in St Louis Missouri, following an application by Hanson, has temporarily restrained Costain Group from completing the proposed dollars 245m (pounds 162.2m) sale of its Australian coal-mining and property interests to Altus Finance.

Costain had previously made a conditional agreement to sell the assets to Hanson for dollars 200m.

bid fails

GEC has failed in its bid for a contract worth up to pounds 1.2bn to supply radios for the Army into the next century. The Bowman order, expected to be one of the largest defence electronics orders awarded this decade, is still being contested by Siemens- Plessey with Racal, and by a group, led by ITT of the US, that includes British Aerospace.

Receivership

Sale Tilney, the mini-conglomerate whose shares were suspended on Wednesday, was put into receivership on New Year's Eve after its bankers failed to reach agreement over a financial restructuring. Maurice Withall, Scott Barnes and Peter Flesher of Grant Thornton have been appointed to act as receivers.

Pounds 5.5m ICI deal

ICI has completed the sale of its Renory-based anionic surfactants business to Hickson International, the UK-based speciality chemicals producer, for pounds 5.5m.

Gunn resigns

John Gunn, former chairman of British & Commonwealth, the failed conglomerate, resigned from the board of Smith New Court, the City securities house.

Drayton payout

Shareholders in Drayton Consolidated Trust, put into liquidation in November after the collapse of sweet manufacturer Alma Holdings, received a payment of 95.5p a share on New Year's Eve, slightly more than expected. Further payments are expected.

Vietnam boost

Foreign investment in Vietnam nearly doubled to dollars 2bn in 1992.

Flying Honda

Honda Motor is developing a jet plane in the US with wings made from a compound carbon fibre material.

Going for gold

China's Shenzhen special economic zone is to set up the country's first gold futures market early this year.

Director quits

Following completion of the restructuring and refinancing of B Elliott, and its associated reduction in activities in the machine tool sector, Jim Martin has resigned as a director.

World markets

Markets on 31 December:

New York: Profit-taking ahead of the holidays pushed the Dow Jones industrial average down 19.99 to 3,301.11.

Tokyo: Closed.

Hong Kong: Share prices ended higher after a half-day of trading, buoyed by bargain- hunting and futures-led buying. The Hang Seng index gained 44.50 to 5,512.39.

Sydney: Buying by investment funds boosted the All Ordinaries index 11.7 to 1,549.9.

Singapore: Foreign investors lifted the Straits Times industrial index 11.94 to 1,524.20.

Istanbul: Government tax incentives boosted the index 48.65 to 4,004.18.

Frankfurt: Closed.

Madrid: The general index eased 0.87 points to 214.25.

Milan: The MIB index shed 10 points to 884, down 16 per cent on the year, in high volume.

Paris: The CAC-40 index recovered earlier losses to end at 1,857.78, a gain of 5.22 per cent on the year.

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