Business and City in Brief

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Ulster electricity sell-off on way

The Government plans to float Northern Ireland Electricity on the stock market in June. More than half the shares in the sale, which is expected to raise up to pounds 400m, will be reserved for the Northern Irish public if demand is high.

Investors in the rest of the UK will be able to buy shares and can register interest by telephone. The offer is unlikely to be marketed overseas.

Pounds 1.3bn for Brent

Shell and Esso are to spend pounds 1.3bn on extending the life of the Brent field, the UK's biggest North Sea oil and gas producer. Government go-ahead for the project was announced by Tim Eggar, Minister for Energy.

Failures increase

Business failures among established companies edged up in the three months to the end of March. A total of 1,776 companies failed, a 1 per cent increase on the previous quarter, according to the credit insurance group Trade Indemnity. The figure was down 14 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Liffe volume soars

Liffe said first-quarter volume totalled 22.56 million futures and options contracts, 43 per cent up on a year earlier.

Coats share offer

Coats Viyella, the textiles group, is following BAT, RTZ and Ladbroke in offering its shareholders a 50 per cent dividend increase provided they take the payment in shares. The move, designed to save advance corporation tax, will cut debt by up to pounds 31m and boost earnings by up to 9 per cent. BICC is also considering a similar scheme.

De La Rue purchase

De La Rue, the banknote and payment systems group, is buying Case ICC, the coin equipment business of the light engineer Expamet International for pounds 2.1m.

Adidas in red

Adidas, the sports goods maker, made a DM149m ( pounds 61.3m) loss last year, including DM69m in one-off restructuring costs. The company said it expected no further extraordinary costs related to restructuring this year.

Venture backing

Venture capital firms invested pounds 1.4bn in nearly 1,300 companies in 1992, a 15 per cent increase on 1991, according to the British Venture Capital Association. Management buyouts and buy-ins accounted for pounds 807m .

Index figures

The Stock Exchange is to publish total return figures for its key indices from 1 July.

Brown in demand

David Brown, the specialist engineering group, said its offer for sale and placing, which closed yesterday, was oversubscribed. Applications were still being counted last night. The price was 170p, valuing the company at pounds 90.3m.

Pechiney drops

Pechiney, the French aluminium and industrial group, said net profits fell by 75 per cent in 1992 to Fr203m ( pounds 25m). The company's president, Jean Gandois, is pressing for its privatisation.

World Markets

New York: In uneventful trading shares failed to hold early gains, and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.62 points at 3,377.57.

Tokyo: Profit-taking set in after recent gains, and the Nikkei average fell 272.66 points to 19,486.8.

Hong Kong: Also hit by profit-taking, the Hang Seng index suffered a 63.61-point retreat to 6,340.83.

Sydney: A late recovery took the All Ordinaries index off its low to end 12.2 points lighter at 1,658.3.

Nairobi: Bullish trading of financial stocks raised turnover. The index added 4.66 points to 1,284.58.

Paris: Shares ended just short of their best levels of the day after late arbitrage buying. The CAC-40 index rose 20.65 points to 1,995.33.

Frankfurt: Poor earnings news and gloomy forecasts from Daimler had little effect. The DAX index firmed 6.71 points to 1,665.4.

Zurich: Banks and chemicals led the bourse higher. The all-share index gained 9.4 points to 1,347.5.

Milan: Heavy buying of blue chips late in the session sent the MIB climbing 1.42 per cent to 1,072.

London: Report, page 30.

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