Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Bad debts blow to Bank of Scotland

An 11 per cent drop in profits before tax at Bank of Scotland to pounds 125.3m in the latest 12 months was blamed on sharply higher bad debts.

Specific bad debt provisions rose 54 per cent to pounds 361.9m and were found across the board in the UK. The bank said few customers required provisions of more than pounds 5m, but it is known to be a big lender to Isosceles and is thought to have lent about pounds 50m to Queens Moat.

Bottom Line, page 25

Walker appeals

George Walker has lodged an appeal against last week's High Court order making him Britain's second-biggest bankrupt, owing pounds 180m. A statement from his lawyers said that comments from the Vice Chancellor suggesting that he had adopted a 'cavalier' attitude to his creditors were 'unjustified and perverse'.

The appeal questions Sir Donald Nicholls' judgment on 15 different counts, including his assertion that Mr Walker and his wife, Jean, had shown no commitment to a voluntary arrangement with creditors.

L&G attacks

Legal & General Investments said yesterday that it has 'absolutely no confidence whatsoever' in the Government's counter-inflation strategy and urged a prompt return to the European exchange rate mechanism.

Ministers warned

The Commons Public Accounts Committee warned ministers against offering over-generous incentives in future sales of shares in PowerGen and National Power.

Japanese record

Japan's current account surplus reached a record of dollars 126.08bn in the year to 31 March, up from dollars 90.22bn a year earlier.

Amex purchase

American Express is paying dollars 115m for Nyman & Schultz, a business travel agency in Scandinavia.

Slough response

Slough Estates said its pounds 147m rights issue has been taken up by 87.1 per cent of shareholders.

In default

Beechcroft Insurance Brokers of Derby has been declared in default by the Investors Compensation Scheme. This allows 30 investors to claim compensation for the pounds 500,000 they are thought to have lost. Police are investigating.

Coats offer accepted

About 90 per cent of Coats Viyella's shareholders have accepted its offer of an improved share dividend. Of these, 12 per cent have taken advantage of Barclays de Zoete Wedd's special dealing terms to sell the shares.

BT contracts

BT has awarded two contracts for advanced transmission equipment worth more than pounds 20m to Sweden's Ericsson and GPT, a subsidiary of GEC.

Woman at helm

Anthea Rose became the first woman to head a UK professional organisation when she was appointed chief executive of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

Bulgarian banks

(First Edition)

Bulgaria is to merge a further 21 banks into two new institutions as part of its bank restructuring and privatisation programme.

Task force

(First Edition)

The Institute of Chartered Accountants has set up a task force to strengthen its ability to give members help and advice on professional matters. It is also to carry out a review of members' regulatory and bureaucratic obligations.

World Markets

New York: Trading in a very narrow range, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 7.20 points down at 3,441.90 by mid-afternoon.

Tokyo: Resuming after the extended holiday, prices closed lower on index-linked selling with the Nikkei average showing a 296.15- point deficit at 20,623.03.

Hong Kong: Profit-taking sent the Hang Seng index down 33.81 to 6,795.52. Hongkong Land fell 20 cents to HKdollars 13.50 after the Trafalgar House loss announcement.

Sydney: Strong buying interest in blue chips saw the All Ordinaries index close near the day's high at 1,691.9, up 17.2 points.

Johannesburg: With gold shares still advancing, the overall index added six points to 3,766.

Frankfurt: The Bundesbank's decision to leave lending rates unchanged erased early gains, leaving the DAX index just 0.1 of a point higher at 1,623.26.

Paris: The CAC-40 index retreated 5.85 points to 1,920.49.

Milan: Shares closed weaker but off early lows, with the MIB 0.17 per cent easier at 1,194.

London: Report, page 24.