Business and City in Brief

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Fraser applications will be scaled back

Private shareholders applied for 126.9 million shares in the public offer for House of Fraser, the department store group, leaving it 2.2 times subscribed. Applicants for up to 400 shares will be satisfied in full but all others will be scaled back. Those applying for seeking more than one million will get only one-fifth. Dealings start on 6 April.

Ulster gas

British Gas is to connect Northern Ireland to the natural gas transmission system of the rest of the UK. A 135km pipeline is to be built between Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and Ballylumford power station which was acquired by British Gas in 1992.

Expansion in store

T&S Stores, the tobacco and convenience store chain, is to buy 27 shops for pounds 5.95m. Eight weeks ago after the group paid pounds 6.7m for 74 Gibbs Newsagents and it will now have 142 convenience network stores. The 27 stores are being sold by the Rowlandson Organisation and are mainly on modern private housing estates. Rowlandson, which will retain the freeholds, plans to continue developing shopping centres and T&S will be an anchor tenant.

T&S announced pre-tax profits of pounds 12.6m for 1993, marginally ahead of last year, and the dividend is increased by 0.2p to 6.1p by a 3.6p (3.5p) final.

Virgin cuts fares

Virgin Atlantic Airways has cut fares on two transatlantic routes to combat British Airways' special offers. Its lowest published return fare to New York has been reduced to pounds 238 and to Los Angeles to pounds 318 for bookings made by 15 April.

Going it alone

The Irish stock exchange is to finalise its split from the London Stock Exchange within the next six months.

Greycoat loss

Greycoat made a loss of pounds 40.5m for the 11 months ended 28 February. It confirmed its intention to pay the fixed preference dividend of pounds 68,000 on its convertible preference shares given the completion of the restructuring of the group and the reduction of the share capital and share premium account of Greycoat plc.

Imro fines plan

The Investment Management Regulatory Organisation is proposing to abolish the pounds 1m limit on the fines it can impose as part of a plan to streamline Imro's disciplinary process and make it 'fast, effective and fair'.

Cheaper calls

BT has cut the cost of international video conferencing calls to the US by up to 25 per cent. The new charges are part of a package of price reductions for business communications services.

World Markets

New York: A drop in long-term interest rates cut steep losses earlier in the day and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 12.38 points down at 3,762.35.

Tokyo: Bargain-hunting and futures-linked buying lifted the Nikkei 105.31 points to 19,941.79.

Hong Kong: Losing its early gains, the Hang Seng index ended 37.18 points lower at 9,197.03.

Sydney: Across-the-board losses inspired by Wall Street's decline left the All Ordinaries index 42.7 points weaker at 2,108.9.

Bombay: Stocks drifted in continuing low volume. The index added 35.02 points to 3,713.18.

Johannesburg: Shares slid nervously on the renewed violence, with the overall index dropping 139 points (2.7 per cent) to 5,031.

Paris: Aided by a strong bond market, the CAC-40 index advanced 7.87 points to 2,144.49.

Frankfurt: A wave of short-covering boosted the DAX index 31.36 points to close at 2,161.42.

Zurich: Banking and drug stocks led the market higher. The SPI gained 14.83 points to 1,837.93.

Milan: Sharp gains resulted from hopes that the general election would bring a clear winner.

London: Report, page 26.

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