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The Independent Online
QVC makes offer to shareholders

QVC Network, the US home shopping operator, said yesterday it would make a cash tender offer of dollars 80 a share for 51 per cent of Paramount Communications, taking its hostile bid for the film maker and publisher directly to shareholders. The offer would cost about dollars 4.8bn.

The move represents QVC's most aggressive counter yet to Paramount's agreement in principle to merge with Viacom, the cable operator. That deal is worth about dollars 8.5bn. QVC said that if the offer succeeded it would move to acquire the rest of Paramount's shares for QVC stock, boosting the total value of the merger to about dollars 9.5bn.

QVC also filed a lawsuit accusing Viacom and Paramount of conspiring to block fair bidding.

Improper sales fine

Prudential Securities of the US agreed to pay dollars 371m to settle federal and state charges of using improper sales tactics to sell investments, known as limited partnerships, during the 1980s boom. It was the second-largest settlement with regulators paid by a securities firm since Drexel Burnham Lambert, the now-defunct junk-bond powerhouse, agreed to paid dollars 650m in 1989.

Oil field go-ahead

A pounds 1bn project to open up new oil fields off the west coast of Britain received the green light after the Government approved the development of four oil and gas fields in Liverpool Bay.

Company failures up

Company failures in the UK in the third quarter were up for first time in a year, surging 7.4 per cent to 722 firms against 672 in the previous quarter, according to KPMG Peat Marwick, the accountancy firm. It concluded the rise showed that 'the impetus given last year following Britain's withdrawal from the European monetary system has now worn off'.

AT&T profits record

American Telephone and Telegraph, the telecommunications giant, reported record profits of dollars 1.07bn ( pounds 732,000) for the third quarter on the back of strong gains in electronic products and financial services. AT&T said the profits compared with earnings of dollars 963m in the same period last year. Revenues rose 3 per cent to dollars 16.66bn from dollars 16.18bn.

Salomon disappoints

The proprietary businesses of Salomon Brothers, the New York investment bank, lost dollars 173m in the third quarter. Losses in the US arbitrage unit were blamed for depressing the group's net income for the third quarter to dollars 20m compared with dollars 368m in the previous six months.

Cut to the core

Apple Computer will slash prices by up to 30 per cent and introduce seven new models in an attempt to break the price barrier with PC clone manufacturers.

World Markets

New York: A rise in long-term bond interest rates jolted investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 8.94 points at 3,636.16.

Tokyo: Light but volatile trade saw the Nikkei average edge up six points to 20,179.42.

Hong Kong: Early gains gave way to selling pressure. The Hang Seng index ended 20.12 points lower at 8,882.68.

Sydney: Renewed optimism fuelled by the higher gold price helped the All Ordinaries index to 2,060.4, a gain of 8.7 points.

Bombay: Hit by fresh fears over the 'tainted shares' issue, the index plunged 67.28 to 2,671.02.

Johannesburg: A late bounce in the gold price reversed a decline. The overall index finished with a five-point fall at 3,905.

Paris: Shares ended sharply higher after the Bundesbank rate cuts, with the CAC-40 index 50.04 points ahead at 2,199.72.

Frankfurt: After short-lived euphoria following the interest rate cut the DAX index fell back to close 7.87 weaker at 2,034.69.

London: Report, page 36.

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