Business and City in Brief

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Shares in Texaco fell again yesterday on word that the multinational oil company had been sued for more than dollars 1bn by a group of Ecuadorian Indians. The Indians allege that Texaco, which operated wells in the Amazon basin until 1990, systematically dumped 3,000 gallons of oil a day into lagoons in the region over several years, polluting their water supply and causing widespread disease.

Texaco, whose shares have fallen almost dollars 2 since the suit was filed on Wednesday, denies it ever released oil into the water supply, suggesting the Indians instead may have walked on oilfield roads that had been surfaced with heavy crude oil.


Within hours of taking office, Canada's new Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, said a government order for 43 EH-101 helicopters worth dollars 3.6bn had been cancelled. The main contractor is EH Industries, a joint venture of Westland Group and Italy's state- owned Agusta. Mr Chretien said negotiations on compensation could take many months.


Factory orders in the US rose 0.7 per cent in September after an upwards revised advance of 1.2 per cent in the previous month and a contraction in July.


Building was started on 15,800 new houses in September, up 700 on the previous month, according to the Department of the Environment. Seasonally adjusted housing starts in the third quarter were 1 per cent down on the previous quarter at 45,100.

Housebuilders' results, page 36


Hongkong Telecom increased taxable profits by 18 per cent to HKdollars 4.2bn ( pounds 367m) in the first half. The company, controlled by Cable and Wireless, this week said it had applied for a cable television licence as the next step in plans to provide a full range of broadband services.


Alexander & Alexander Services, the insurance company, lost a net dollars 4.1m on operating revenues of dollars 321.1m for the third quarter to 30 September.


Two smaller companies investment trusts are capitalising on the popularity of the stock market sector they invest in and raising about pounds 64m. Foreign & Colonial Smaller Companies is raising pounds 40m and Amicable Smaller Enterprises Trust pounds 24.5m.


The public part of the flotation offer of Allders, the department stores group, was 1.5 times oversubscribed. Applications for the 170p shares will be scaled down. The share offer by Charles Sidney, the Mercedes-Benz dealer, was oversubscribed 1.7 times.


(First Edition)

Grant Thornton, the chartered accountancy firm, has been appointed administrative receiver to Automotive Development Centre of Luton, an independent automotive design consultancy with 200 employees. The business is being kept going and Grant hopes to sell it quickly.


NEW YORK: In the second day of a sell-off sparked by interest rate fears, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 36.89 points down at 3,624.98.

TOKYO: The Nikkei average plumbed a seven-month low of 18,949.79 after diving 431.45 points on index-linked selling.

HONG KONG: Stocks ended sharply lower for the second day running, with the Hang Seng index off 147.23 points - more than 1.5 per cent - at 9,204.88.

SYDNEY: Tracking softer overseas markets, the All Ordinaries dipped 6.8 points to 2,101.6.

JOHANNESBURG: With gold shares following bullion higher, the index added 32 points to 3,978.

FRANKFURT: Profit-taking after recent gains lowered the DAX index 21.75 points to 2,062.61.

PARIS: The CAC-40 index tumbled 35.19 points to 2,135.97.

MILAN: Prices ended sharply lower after the unexpected TV appearance by President Scalfaro to deny taking illegal payments.

WARSAW: The WIG index rose 151.9 points to a record 8,341.4.

LONDON: Report, page 34.