Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
New moves on Serps opt-out

The Government is to legislate to encourage more over-35s to opt out of the state earnings-related pension in favour of occupational and personal schemes.

The proposal, to be included in a White Paper in the next few weeks, may form part of this autumn's Queen's Speech. It would mean people being paid increasing amounts of National Insurance rebate as they get older if they stay out of Serps.

Exco prediction

Exco, the money and securities broker, is forecasting pounds 27m pre- tax profit for the six months to 30 June, up from pounds 21.4m last time, in the run-up to its stock market flotation in July. Around half Exco's 60 million shares will be offered in the sale, expected to value the company at more than pounds 200m.

Cable expansion

Nynex, one of the largest cable television companies in Britain, is to offer video on demand and interactive television over a regional television and telephone network to be constructed in north-west England. The company has awarded equipment and infrastructure contracts worth pounds 200m to Nokia of Sweden and General Instrument of the US.

Bid rebuffed

Great Southern, the funeral company, formally rejected an pounds 87m takeover bid from Service Corporation International of the US. It said the 600p-a-share offer was unsolicited, unwelcome and totally inadequate.

Benefits link-up

Metropolitan Life and Travelers, the US insurance groups, are to merge their health plans to create America's largest benefits provider. They will contribute their 13 million subscribers and dollars 650m in capital to the new company, which will be equally owned by the two insurers.

Flights dispute

John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, said the French government's expected plans to restrict access to Orly airport near Paris would be illegal. After meeting Bernard Bosson, his French counterpart, Mr MacGregor said that plans to limit the number of return flights by British airlines between London and Orly and to limit flights to aircraft of more than 200 seats appeared discriminatory.

Michelin axe

Michelin is to cut 1,170 jobs in France. The tyre manufacturer, which has a French production workforce of 29,000, said there would be no forced redundancies. Michelin plans to cut costs by Fr3.5bn by axing more than 10,000 jobs worldwide by 1995.

World Markets

New York: Strong gains followed data showing that inflation was under control in May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31.71 points to end at 3,814.83.

Tokyo: The stronger yen and the North Korean crisis triggered profit-taking. The Nikkei average lost 198.84 to 21,353.97.

Hong Kong: Closed (holiday).

Sydney: The resources sector provided most of the activity as the All Ordinaries index added 7.2 points to 2,076.6.

Bombay: Buying by foreign funds helped the index to close 12.41 points firmer at 4,141.26.

Johannesburg: A firmer gold price lent support as shares moved higher in hectic trade.

Frankfurt: Turbulence in the bond market was the main cause of a near 1.5 per cent fall by the DAX index, off 30.92 at 2,074.7.

Paris: Short-covering in the futures market took the CAC-40 index to a technical 14.33-point gain, closing at 1,991.99.

Zurich: Negative reaction to US economic data lowered the SPI 4.36 points to 1,797.13.

London: Report, page 26.