Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
INVESTORS EAGER FOR BT SHARES

Private investors are eager to buy more BT shares from the Government, according to a survey by Mori for Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

It concludes that the shares, which would raise almost pounds 5bn if the Government sold all its 21.8 per cent stake, should be marketed as a savings product to the retail investor.

OWNERS ATTACKED

Airtours' formal offer document for Owners Abroad, the rival tour operator, is spearheaded by an attack on the target's share performance since 1988. A pounds 1,000 stake in Airtours, the document says, would now be worth pounds 16,500 compared with pounds 2,035 for Owners. Owners countered that pounds 1,000 invested in Airtours on 5 January, the eve of the bid, would now be worth pounds 903.

MACMILLAN SALE

The administrators of Maxwell Communications Corporation have put Macmillan, the US publishing subsidiary, up for sale, and a deal is expected soon. Mark Homan, of Price Waterhouse, said he was prepared to sell Macmillan singly, or together with Official Airline Guides.

MORE UK CARS . . . Car production in the UK last year was up 4.4 per cent on 1991 at 1,291,231. The rise was attributed to increased output from Japanese transplant factories and sterling's devaluation.

. . . AND LESS STEEL

Steel output fell to 16.2 million tonnes in 1992, 3.5 per cent down on 1991 and 14.3 per cent lower than the peak year of 1988.

US PRICES RISE

US wholesale prices rose 0.2 per cent in December, led by higher food prices. The yearly gain in the producer price index was 1.6 per cent. December retail sales leapt 1.2 per cent.

WIMPEY AXES JOBS

Wimpey is shedding 60 jobs from its 1,300 construction workforce as part of a restructuring that will leave it with five regional service centres.

6.6m POUNDS GLAXO DEAL

Glaxo is investing pounds 6.6m in a research centre in Singapore that will seek out active molecules from natural products.

S&P CUTS RATINGS

Standard & Poor's said it lowered the senior debt rating of Sun Alliance Group to A minus from A, and the rating on Royal Insurance's ability to pay claims from A to A minus.

INSURANCE BOOST

Lloyds Abbey Life increased sales 6 per cent last year to pounds 248.6m, despite the loss of 300 salesmen and an 11 per cent fall in regular premium sales at the original Abbey Life subsidiary.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: The market posted some uneven gains, led by high- technology issues. The Dow Jones Average closed 4.32 points higher at 3,267.88.

TOKYO: Shares ended mixed ahead of the long weekend, with the Nikkei average just 2.31 points easier at 16,515.6.

HONG KONG: Positive sentiment ahead of the Chinese lunar new year helped the Hang Seng to leap 111.42 points to 5,890.16.

SYDNEY: The troubles at Westpac had little effect. The All Ordinaries index gained 12.4 points to close at 1,507.4.

BOMBAY: Returning after a three-day closure due to the riots, investors boosted the index 39.11 points to 2,459.67.

FRANKFURT: The DAX index, 7.24 points higher at 1,523.74 in the official session, posted further gains in after-hours trade.

PARIS: A technical rebound lifted the index 21.01 to 1,803.54.

MILAN: The telecommunications and insurance sectors led the market sharply higher. The MIB put on 20 points to 1,034.

LONDON: Report, page 25.

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