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The Independent Online
Insolvency Bill gets Royal Assent

The Insolvency (No 2) Bill - rushed through the Commons by Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, as a result of the Paramount Airways case - received Royal Assent.

It restricts liabilities under employment contracts to wages and salaries, sickness and holiday pay and pensions contributions. It applies to contracts adopted on or after 15 March.

Fraser in demand

The offer for House of Fraser is believed to have attracted considerable interest from private investors, with more than 70,000 applications. That means it is likely to have been oversubscribed, although details and allocations will not be announced until Monday. All the shares in the pounds 413m offer were provisionally placed with institutions, but up to 25 per cent can be clawed back.

Next credit

Next, the retail group, is spending pounds 23.5m to buy the consumer credit receivables of Clydesdale Group, which is in receivership. The assets were generated through Clydesdale's electrical stores.

Inspec in demand

Inspec, the speciality chemicals group formed by a hiving off from BP, has had its offer for shares oversubscribed seven times.

Burgeoning Budgie

Sleepy Kids, the producer of children's animation which owns the rights to Budgie the Little Helicopter, has appointed Westinghouse Broadcasting as international distributor of the Budgie animated television series.

Berkeley sales

Berkeley Group has sold part of its commercial investment property portfolio for pounds 90m, a profit of pounds 11m pre-tax.

Tugendhat goes

Lord Tugendhat has resigned as director of LWT (Holdings) with effect from 21 March.

Pollution limit

European Union environment ministers agreed to limit emissions from large power plants built since 1 July, 1987. Under a compromise member states will have an extra year to comply. Agreement was unanimous after Spain dropped objections.

UAP staff deal

Staff at Union des Assurances de Paris will be able to buy a total stake of up to 10 per cent when the insurer is privatised, with advantageous terms if they hold their shares for a certain period.

Pilkington retires

Sir Antony Pilkington will retire as a non-executive director of National Westminster Bank after the annual meeting on 26 April. He has served as a director for almost 10 years.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Weakness in the bond markets sent shares diving, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 46.07 points to 3,775.02 at the close.

Tokyo: Scattered selling on the financial year's final settlement day pushed the Nikkei average 201.42 points lower to 19,836.48.

Hong Kong: Light trade after recent volatility sent the Hang Seng down 86.54 to 9,234.21.

Sydney: Renewed foreign selling brought an 18.7-point loss on the All Ordinaries index to 2,151.6.

Bombay: The index eased a further 13.95 points to 3,667.52.

Johannesburg: With heavy falls in industrials and an as-you-were situation in gold, the overall index fell 70 points to 5,171.

Paris: Shares continued to lose ground as the new account began. The CAC-40 index retreated 15.94 points to 2,136.62.

Frankfurt: The downturn continued in quiet trade, with the DAX giving up 31.62 to 2,130.06.

Zurich: Following other European bourses downward, the SPI dropped 11 points to 1,823.1.

London: Report, page 19.

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