Business and City in Brief

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France gets set to sell Renault

France has set in motion the privatisation of Renault, its flagship car company, with a call for bids for bank advisers on the sale, although no date has been set.

The stock market has been eagerly awaiting news of the Renault sell-off since a planned merger with Volvo, the Swedish car maker, fell through at the last minute in December, casting doubt on the timing of the privatisation.

Pay increase

Roger Urwin, chief executive of London Electricity, saw his total pay increase by about 24 per cent last year to pounds 273,782, including pension contributions. The company said that the increase was partly because the chairman during the year, John Wilson, became non-executive in October. Mr Wilson was succeeded in April 1994 by Sir Bob Reid.

Irish Steel battle

Last-ditch efforts to save Irish Steel, the Republic's only steel producer, will be held in Dublin's Labour Court today. Directors this week decided to apply to the High Court for a provisional liquidator for the state-owned Cork Harbour mill after its 560 workers rejected what management insisted was a vital cost-cutting package. Political pressures have delayed liquidation moves for five days, allowing the hearing.

Lloyd's inquiry

Lloyd's of London insurance market's regulatory board is launching a loss review of Sturge syndicates 210 and 428 for the year 1990. A spokesman said the investigation was triggered by losses exceeding 100 per cent of capacity.

Alitalia axe

Alitalia has struck a deal with trade unions for 1,570 jobs to be shed through a mix of early retirement packages and other incentives.

Budgeting shake-up

Kenneth Clarke has announced proposals which he says will revolutionise accounting and budgeting across central government departments. The Green Paper announced the intention to proceed with the introduction of resource accounting for all departments by 1 April 1998, with the first set of new-style accounts published for 1999-2000.

Going Orange

Orange, the British mobile telephone service, covers 60 per cent of the population, or 35 million people, and is ahead of its targets for extending coverage this year and next, it said. Orange, the fourth company to set up a UK mobile service, is owned by Hutchison Telecom.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Shares gave up large early gains despite a firmer dollar and by the close the Dow Jones Average was a scant 1.62 points ahead at 3,704.28.

Tokyo: Light bargain-hunting raised the Nikkei average 139.93 points to 20,540.41, ending five consecutive days of decline.

Hong Kong: Extending its rally, the Hang Seng index climbed 237.46 (2.7 per cent) to 8,828.91.

Sydney: Moderate trade took the All Ordinaries index 5.7 points higher to close at 1,978.6.

Bombay: In a session delayed by the effect of monsoon rains the index rose 18.59 to 4,152.56.

Johannesburg: Bullion's failure to push further ahead held gold shares back as the overall index added 17 points to 5,471.

Paris: Hopes of lower European interest rates helped the CAC-40 index 32.51 higher to 1,974.59.

Frankfurt: Supported by stable bond prices, the DAX index firmed 5.95 points to 2,054.

Zurich: Continued losses by Roche led the Swiss Performance Index 19.42 lower to 1,649.26.

London: Report, page 34.

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