Business and City in Brief

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Homes Assured chiefs jailed

Anthony Dobson, 60, the former head of Homes Assured, a company set up to help council tenants to buy their homes, was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Southwark Crown Court for fraudulent trading and other offences. Keith Woodward, 57, a fellow director who helped the company to trade insolvently until it crashed pounds 10.7m in the red, received a four-and-a-half- year sentence.

Judge John Rogers banned both for 10 years under the 1986 Company Directors Disqualification Act.

US active

The US leading indicator, which predicts economic activity six months ahead, rose 1 per cent in August after a 0.1 per cent increase in July, official figures showed.

Seat talks Volkswagen said that the critical situation at its Spanish Seat subsidiary must be overcome by 'urgent counter-measures'. Ferdinand Piech, the VW chairman, and his number two, Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, will have talks with the Spanish government on Thursday.

Lloyd's trust

An investment trust designed to attract corporate capital for the Lloyd's of London insurance market has been launched. HCG Trust is to raise up to pounds 100m through a placing by UBS with institutional investors requiring a minimum investment of pounds 20,000. Lloyd's has also set up a specialist claims unit to handle asbestos, pollution and health hazard claims, which is expected to begin operations on 1 January.

Broker closes

Griffiths and Lamb, the regional stockbroker based in Birmingham, has ceased trading.

Hanson renames

Hanson is restructuring the newly-acquired Quantum Chemical Corp into two units. The former USI Chemicals Division will be renamed Quantum Chemical Company. The former Suburban Propane Gas Division will be renamed Suburban Propane Company.

Water rises justified

Capital investment made by water companies justifies increases in water bills over the past few years, Ofwat said. Although water bills will have gone up by 25 per cent in real terms between 1989 and the end of this year, the regulator said that customers were getting results.

Goode Committee

An article yesterday on the Goode Committee's main recommendations for pension law reform erroneously included four measures NOT proposed by the report. The committee did not call for the banning of self-investment by pension funds, the use of independent custodians to look after scheme assets, the appointment of independent trustees or the banning of stock-lending.

World Markets

New York: A rebound in shares likely to benefit from a stronger economy saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average rise 23.75 points to 3,578.87.

Tokyo: Helped by a more optimistic atmosphere, bargain- hunting and index-linked buying took the Nikkei average up 177.42 points to 20,183.13.

Hong Kong: Closed (holiday).

Sydney: Strength in the resources and industrial sectors reversed the market's early losses and lifted the All Ordinaries 8.3 points to 1,972.7.

Nairobi: Stocks closed firm. The index showed a 5.42-point gain on the week at 1,813.65.

Paris: In a dull session the CAC-40 index finished near the middle of its trading range, 2.09 points higher at 2,116.72.

Frankfurt: Prices ended barely changed in extremely low volume after drifting up from early low levels. The DAX index was 1.84 points easier at 1,913.87.

Vienna: Recovering from an early setback, the ATX index recorded a 5.81 gain to 968.68.

London: Report, page 19.