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BAT shareholders take higher offer

Over 30,000 small shareholders in BAT Industries are set to receive Swiss Bank Corporation's higher offer for their new scrip dividend shares despite having irrevocably accepted a lower offer from the rival stockbroking firm BZW.

SBC stepped in last week with an offer equal to 33.2p per ordinary share, topping BZW's 32.2p a share. Last night BZW and SBC were close to a deal in which BZW agreed to abandon its lower offer in favour of SBC even though BZW was legally within its rights to keep shares already sold to it by BAT's smaller shareholders. BZW will retain an estimated fee of more than pounds 5m for its work for BAT setting up the enhanced scrip dividend scheme. Air route review

In a move that could hurt British Airways' investment in USAir, the US Transportation Department may stop the the sale of government-assigned international routes by American carriers, an official said yesterday.

BES ruling sought

National Westminster Bank is challenging the Inland Revenue ruling in the courts that its Business Expansion Scheme offer failed to meet the deadline imposed in the Budget for schemes offering a loan.

LEB sells stores

London Electricity has sold 14 of its Powerstores together with the retail stock to a management buyout team, Powerstore (Trading), for pounds 7m. Powerstore (Trading) will also operate from a further four Powerstores under a licensing arrangement and manage retailing activities in the Debenhams concessions.

Mulcahy pay rise

Sir Geoff Mulcahy, chairman of Kingfisher, was paid pounds 773,000 in the year to 30 January, up from pounds 719,000 last time, according to the annual report. It shows Kingfisher gave pounds 25,000 to the Conservative Party last year.

Bankruptcies up

Nearly 5,000 people applied to the courts to have themselves declared bankrupt in the first quarter of the year, according to the Lord Chancellor's Department. The figure was 19 per cent up on the previous three months and the largest since figures were first collected in 1988.

There was a 7 per cent increase in the number of people pushed into bankruptcy by their creditors.

Quarta salary

The dollars 475,000 salary attributed to Roberto Quarta, a director at BTR, is for the current year, not as stated in yesterday's Independent. According to the company, Mr Quarta earned 'substantially less' before his appointment to the board in February 1993.

Southend Property

John Main, the chairman of Harmony Leisure, is also a director of Southend but has never been the property company's chairman, contrary to a report in yesterday's edition.

World Markets

New York: A disappointing report on US employment levels and a drop in bonds sent stock prices lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 4.71 points down at 3,437.19.

Tokyo: Recouping its early losses on late index-linked buying, the Nikkei average powered ahead to 20,811.36, a gain of 198.33 points.

Hong Kong: Relief that Hutchison Whampoa's cash call was smaller than expected enlivened an otherwise directionless market. The Hang Seng index edged up 2.82 points to 6,798.34.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index dropped 6.6 points to 1,685.3 in moderately active trade.

Paris: The downward trend accelerated as the CAC-40 index retreated 41.92 points to 1,878.57.

Frankfurt: Broad-based selling in modest volume lowered the DAX index 11.34 points to 1,611.92, marginally above the session low.

Milan: Prices closed mixed in a session of position-squaring ahead of next week's technical deadlines.

Warsaw: An end-of-the-week buying spree took the WIG all-share index to a record high after a week- long correction. It ended 132 points (7 per cent) higher at 2,027.

London: Report, page 19.