Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Blue chips edged ahead to their sixth record close this year with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3.09 at 3,870.29 by the close.

TOKYO: Profit-taking on nervousness after last week's strong rally depressed the Nikkei 225 index 248.33 to 18,725.37.

HONG KONG: The Hang Seng index edged up 18.67 to 10,792.92 in sluggish trade pending the outcome of textile trade negotiations between the US and China.

SYDNEY: Sharp gains in futures propelled the All Ordinaries index 31.8 better to 2,238.2.

JOHANNESBURG: The gold index gained three at 2,094 as institutions awaited bullion's next move.

ZURICH: The strong dollar encouraged buyers and lifted the SMI 20.5 to 3,011.1

PARIS: Unchanged interest rates and an early decline on Wall Street lowered the CAC-40 index 27.47 to 2,234.78.

FRANKFURT: The DAX index declined 4.44 to 2,137.38 on persistent profit-taking.

LONDON: Report, page 26.

BLOCKBUSTER TAKES dollars 30M VIRGIN STAKE

Blockbuster Entertainment, the US video and music retailer, is taking a 19.9 per cent stake in Virgin Interactive Entertainment, part of the Virgin group. It will buy the stake from existing Virgin shareholders, paying with its own shares worth about dollars 30m. Blockbuster will also get options to purchase additional shares from the same shareholders.

Last year Hasbro, the US toy company, bought a 16.2 per cent stake in Virgin. Virgin said yesterday's deal would enable it to create a 'global interactive entertainment company with significant potential'.

Feature, page 27

COLD SNAP LIFTS CRUDE

A cold snap in the US led to a surge in crude oil prices. Brent crude for immediate delivery rose 20 cents to dollars 14.25 barrel while March cargoes climbed 41 cents to dollars 14.14. Dealers expect Brent prices to nudge dollars 14.75 because of further deterioration in weather conditions and supply disruptions caused by yesterday's Los Angeles earthquake.

UNILEVER SELLS STAKE

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch food group, is reducing its interest in the Swedish beer and soft drinks markets. The company is selling its 55 per cent share in the Falcon AB beer and soft drinks joint venture to Nordic Capital Svenska AB. Financial details are not being disclosed. Falcon's annual sales are about pounds 110m.

BAA FLYING HIGH

A record 80.8 million passengers travelled through BAA's seven airports last year, 5 per cent up on 1992. Cargo traffic improved 10.4 per cent to 1.13 million tonnes.

INSOLVENCY CALL

Up to half of the directors of insolvent companies referred to the Government's Insolvency Service for possible disqualification are not brought to court. The Institute of Credit Management has written to the Public Accounts Committee demanding more resources for the Insolvency Service and more publicity for successful disqualifications.

LIFFE SETS RECORDS

The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe) achieved record volumes last week, of 3,541,581 futures and options contracts representing a nominal value of pounds 158bn on average each day.

GREEN LIGHT FOR TOPIC

The London Stock Exchange has endorsed the new generation of Topic and Topicline information services produced by ICV and Telekurs. The new services had to pass tests after being installed in several sites throughout the UK, and are now being taken up by City customers.

WATSONS BUYS INVICTA

Watsons, the actuarial consultancy, is to buy Invicta, the pension management arm of Swiss Life (UK).

BUREAU SEPARATED

(First Edition)

The Invest in Britain Bureau is to become a separate division of the Department of Trade and Industry under its own chief executive as part of a further overhaul of the department.

ALL TALK, NO ACTION

(First Edition)

Up to half of the directors of insolvent companies referred to the Government's Insolvency Service for possible disqualification are not bought to court. The Institute of Credit Management has written to the Public Accounts Committee demanding more resources for the Insolvency Service and more publicity for successful disqualifications.

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