Business and City in Brief

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Takeover deals more than double

The value of mergers and acquisitions activity within Britain nearly doubled to pounds 2.7bn between the third and fourth quarters of 1993. The figure for the year was 17 per cent higher than in 1992.

The number of deals rose from 123 to 160 in the final quarter, regaining the 1991 level. Three takeovers completed in the final quarter were worth more than pounds 100m and another five more than pounds 50m.

Midland acts

Midland Bank said that from 28 February it will be crediting customers' accounts with cheques after two days. However, it will still take three days before they will be allowed to draw on the funds.

Elf service

Institutions have been allocated 21.7 million Elf Aquitaine shares at Fr403 apiece in the privatisation of the company.

The French will get 26 per cent of the institutional cake, other Europeans will have 45 per cent and US institutions 22 per cent. French investors will receive 73 per cent of the total number of shares, 64 per cent of which will go to individuals.

Fewer Nissans

Nissan is to cut its production to 1.62 million cars in the year from 1 April. It will have produced 1.7 million vehicles in the current year.

Spirited effort

Grand Metropolitan pushed its global 1993 spirits sales up 3.2 per cent to remain the world's top spirits group. Sales at the second-placed Guinness slipped 1.1 per cent, according to the industry newsletter Impact. Grand Met's IDV drinks unit had 1993 sales of 43.2 million nine-litre cases compared with Guinness's United Distillers unit which had 29.6 million cases.

Car recycling

Volkswagen and Preussag, a metals and engineering group, have agreed to co-operate in recycling used cars in Germany over the next 18 years.

Biotech trust

Rothschild Asset Management intends to launch a UK-listed investment trust, the International Biotechnology Trust, aimed at providing long-term capital growth by investing in companies in the biotechnology sector worldwide. The proposed launch, by way of a placing and offer for subscription, will be in April. Robert Fleming will act as broker to the issue.

Bank staff backed

More than 10,000 Barclays Bank customers have backed calls by BIFU, the banking union, to drop plans to sack 505 staff in London and South-east England, BIFU said yesterday.

World Markets

New York: A positive high-tech sector, buoyed by hopes of US sanctions against Japan, helped the Dow Jones 24.49 points higher to 3,928.55 by the close.

Tokyo: Overnight gains by the yen prompted across-the-board selling. The Nikkei average lost 484.65 points to 18,974.6.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunters brought a rebound after a sharp sell-off, leaving the Hang Seng index 23.52 better at 11,012.33.

Sydney: Amid continuing worry about the US-Japanese trade impasse, the All Ordinaries index eased 4.6 points to 2,234.

Bombay: Prices closed steady in thin trade, with the index 8.07 points lighter at 3,903.62.

Johannesburg: Gold shares led a steady recovery as the overall index advanced 50 points to 4,742.

Paris: A technical recovery inspired by gains in early Wall Street trading took the CAC-40 index up 14.81 points to 2,257.97.

Zurich: Hopes of a cut in German interest rates tomorrow took shares higher, with the SPI 21.62 points ahead at 1,902.91.

Frankfurt: Thin, technical trade ended with the DAX index just 0.39 of a point lower at 2,115.62.

London: Report, page 32.