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Merrett break-up accelerates

Merrett, the troubled Lloyd's underwriting agency, is poised to announce that two of its insurance syndicates are to be taken over by Wellington Underwriting Agencies, a rival agency company. Syndicates 332 and 1184 specialise respectively in life and motor insurance.

The group is also in talks with a number of parties, including SJO Catlin Underwriting Agencies, for the disposal of its 179 non-marine insurance syndicate. Syndicate 1038, another non-marine syndicate, is to be taken over by Venton Underwriting Agencies.

QMH gets all-clear

Queens Moat Houses got the all-clear to press on with its reconstruction plans yesterday after threats to seize 27 hotels collapsed. Debenture bondholders voted overwhelmingly to accept a company proposal that they waive the right to enforce their security over the hotels.

US more confident

The US Consumer Confidence Index showed a near-record gain this month, leaping 12 points to 71.2. But the Clinton administration warned that accelerating growth may push up inflation, and hence interest rates, in the new year.

Cosco partners

Carrefour, the French retailer, has joined the joint venture between Littlewoods and Price-Costco that is to open US-style warehouse clubs in Britain. Littlewoods and Carrefour will have 20 per cent stakes, with Price-Costco holding the remaining 60 per cent.

BOC appointment

Alexander Dyer has been appointed chief executive of BOC, the industrial gases group. He succeeds Patrick Rich, who continues as group chairman. Mr Dyer will combine the new post with his job of deputy chairman.

Oil price falls

London IPE crude fell by 15 cents on news that Iraq may negotiate to accept a dollars 1.6bn limited oil sale.

Minories float fails

Minories Investment Trust has become the latest of the planned Lloyd's investment companies to fail to raise enough money from institutional investors to proceed with its float. Minories, backed by Guinness Mahon and Fenchurch Underwriting Agencies, intends to try again early next year.

Australian trust

The UK arm of Australia's second-largest life insurer, National Mutual Life Association of Australasia, is seeking pounds 25.75m through a placing for a new investment trust that will invest in smaller Australian companies.

Ferruzzi may sue

Ferruzzi Finanziaria shareholders backed a management call for legal action against the accountants Price Waterhouse for failing to detect losses at the Italian foods-to-chemicals group.