Business and City in Brief

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German output turns down

Industrial output in western Germany slipped unexpectedly in March, according to preliminary figures, but economists expect revised final data to indicate the modest recovery is still on track.

The economics ministry said output was down 0.8 per cent from February and 0.9 per cent compared with March 1993. But it added the monthly change would probably be revised upwards by 3 per cent.

Pension boost

Automated Security Holdings' chairman and chief executive, Tom Buffett, has received a pounds 300,000 pension top-up after the discovery of a shortfall in his contribution payments over the past few years. His salary rose from pounds 297,000 to pounds 334,000 in a year that saw the group issue a profits warning and lose the services of BZW as its joint broker. BZW resigned when the company refused to cancel its enhanced scrip dividend offer after the profits warning.

Arena for sale

Viacom finally confirmed yesterday that it is considering the sale of its New York sports arena, Madison Square Garden, and the teams and local cable TV channel based there. Persistent reports have suggested that the entertainment giant is in talks with two cable groups, Tele- Communications Inc and Cablevision, about selling the property for as much as dollars 1bn ( pounds 680m).

C&W venture

A consortium including Bouygues, the French construction group, and Cable & Wireless is bidding for a licence to build and operate a mobile telephone network in France. Among the other partners in the group is US West, the American telephone company that is joint owner with C&W of the Mercury One-2-One mobile network in Britain.

China deal

International Business Machines signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Ministry of Electronics Industry to produce a wide range of information technology projects, including a large networking joint venture. The memorandum will cost IBM an estimated dollars 100m in capital outlay over the next two years.

Opel staff cuts

The German car maker Opel, a subsidiary of General Motors, will cut 2,000 jobs by the end of the year. Since the end of 1992 staff have been reduced by 5,000 and with the latest cuts will fall below 46,000.

Lower pay

Tesco's chairman, Sir Ian MacLaurin, saw a reduction in total pay last year to pounds 794,000 from pounds 967,000. In addition Tesco made pension fund contributions on his behalf of pounds 151,000 against pounds 148,000. The move reflects a drop in performance incentives, which tumbled to pounds 159,000 against pounds 343,000.

World Markets

New York: A flurry of late program buying lifted the Dow Jones Average out of negative territory to a 13.39-point gain at 3,714.41 by the close.

Tokyo: Closed (holiday).

Hong Kong: Shares tumbled 1.4 per cent in the face of a long list of uncertainties. The Hang Seng index sank 120.57 to 8,679.13.

Sydney: A renewed fall in futures prices pulled shares down, leaving the All Ordinaries index 3.7 points off at 2,044.2.

Bombay: Withdrawal of a dollars 1bn Euro issue by the telecoms company VSNL drove prices sharply lower, with the index 47.21 points adrift at 3,673.51.

Johannesburg: Mild profit-taking knocked 71 points off the overall index to close at 5,291.

Paris: Prices eased after five consecutive days of rises. The CAC- 40 index slipped 7.24 to 2,178.99.

Frankfurt: Quiet trading saw the DAX retreat 16.36 to 2,252.29.

Zurich: Selling in the blue chips Roche and UBS helped to push the Swiss Performance Index down 2.94 points to 1,796.09.

London: Report, page 28.