Business and City in Brief

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Lord Alexander, chairman of National Westminster Bank, said NatWest had always passed interest rate cuts on to small business customers and denied it was penalising them with high charges for its own lending mistakes.

In evidence to an all-party parliamentary committee, he said that for customers with base-rate-linked borrowing, NatWest passed interest rate cuts on 'immediately, automatically and in full'.


Fimbra, the regulator of financial advisers, has suspended Lloyd Taylor of Brighton and PPA Independent Network, based in London, for lacking adequate financial resources.


The US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday charged Paul Mozer, the former head of Salomon's government-securities trading desk, and his deputy Thomas Murphy, with submitting false bids at US Treasury auctions two years ago. They are the first individuals charged in connection with the Treasury scandal.


Nomura Securities is to cut its workforce by an estimated 1,400, or 10 per cent, over the next three years as part of a reorganisation plan. It also intends to close its mini-retail outlets, and cut computer expenses by 20 per cent.


Tea prices in London climbed to their highest in almost three years, to 142.62 pence per kilo, as droughts in key producing areas - southern India, Sri Lanka and south-east Africa - looked set to reduce crops by around 120,000 tons this year.


The privatised airports group BAA appointed two new non- executive directors - Lawrence Urquhart, chairman and chief executive of Burmah Castrol, and Peter Middleton, chief executive of Lloyd's of London.


Receivership and liquidation appointments showed the fourth consecutive monthly increase in November, from 419 in October to 449. But the underlying trend is 10 per cent down on last year, according to Touche Ross, the accountants and management consultants.


Philips, the Netherlands-based electronics company, has agreed with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the world's record companies, to introduce codes in the manufacture of compact discs and digital compact cassettes. The aim is to prevent piracy, which is costing the music industry millions of dollars a year.


(First Edition)

The insurance company Willis Corroon Group said Donald Payne, chairman of Willis Faber & Dumas, will become chief executive of Willis Corroon, the international insurance broking and risk management business, from 1 January.


NEW YORK: In quiet trading the Dow Jones Average closed 8.13 points lower at 3,286.23.

FRANKFURT: German shares fell in cautious, thin trading. The DAX index slipped 10.93 points to 1,533.96.

PARIS: Talk of French devaluation, boosting the bourse by arousing hopes of lower interest rates, faded, dampened by Bundesbank intervention to support the franc. The CAC-40 index lost 8.96 points to close at 1,783.33.

SINGAPORE: The Straits Times Industrial index dropped 43.18 points to 1,549.89. HONG KONG: Stocks weakened as sentiment continued to be affected by the Sino-British dispute over the colony's future. The Hang Seng Index shed 90.06 points to close at 5,411.65.

TOKYO: Shares firmed in late buying, with the Nikkei 225 index gaining 80.64 points to 17,393.68.

SYDNEY: The All Ordinaries index closed 5.8 points lower at 1,438.5.

LONDON: Report, page 29.