Business and City in Brief

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Pounds 7bn UK rights issues set record

Companies in the UK raised pounds 7.07bn in rights issues in the first half of 1993, compared with pounds 728m in the same period of 1992, and a record for the amount raised in the first half of the year, the London Stock Exchange said.

First-half turnover in UK equities grew 24 per cent to pounds 260bn from pounds 209bn. The number of new UK and Irish companies floating on the London market almost doubled to 64 from 33, raising pounds 2.14bn compared with pounds 681m in the previous first half. Turnover in overseas equities rose 54 per cent to pounds 253bn for the first half of 1993.

Pounds 250,000 pay-off

John Hutchinson, the corporate strategy director of Nationwide Building Society sacked last October, three days after he was moved to the society's new Swindon head office, received pounds 250,000 compensation, according to the society's annual report. Tim Melville-Ross, chief executive, was paid a performance-related bonus of pounds 13,000, down from pounds 23,750 previously.

France in recession

France's total gross domestic product fell 0.5 per cent in the first three months of this year after a drop of 0.3 per cent the previous quarter. The market sector GDP figure, which excludes state activities such as health and education, was down 0.6 per cent, and downward revisions to previous quarters showed that 1992 was far weaker than had been thought.

Ferruzzi action call

The Bank of Italy called for urgent action to ease the deepening debt problems at Ferruzzi, the family-controlled conglomerate, before it damaged the national economy. Ferruzzi, dollars 20.6bn in the red, is waiting for five Italian and two foreign banks to mount a rescue.

China's debt surges

China's foreign debt rose 14.5 per cent to dollars 69.3bn in 1992, most of it in medium or long-term loans, the Xinhua News Agency said. A quarter of China's foreign debt is owed by the government, 53 per cent by banks, 13 per cent by domestic companies and 8.5 per cent by foreign-funded companies.

US sales improve

Wholesale sales in the US rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7 per cent in May, the largest monthly increase since a 2.7 per cent gain in January, the Commerce Department said. Business inventories rose 0.3 per cent.

MEPC rights success

MEPC, the property group, said its pounds 222m one-for-five rights issue was taken up by holders of 97 per cent of shares. The balance was sold in the market for a net premium of 53.2p over the 350p issue price.

Pounds 15m CrestaCare buy

CrestaCare will pay pounds 15.1m for eight nursing homes with a total of 515 beds - pounds 14.1m in cash and 2,375,000 ordinary CrestaCare shares. The company also announced a placing and open offer by Credit Lyonnais Laing of 83,230,251 ordinary shares at 40p each.

World Markets

New York: Bargain-hunting restored the shine to blue chips and the Dow Jones Industrial Average improved 25.74 to 3,475.67, ending a five-day string of losses.

Tokyo: Declining futures prices pulled the market down in continued light trade. The Nikkei average lost 109.11 points to 19,720.67.

Hong Kong: Maintaining its downward drift, the Hang Seng surrendered 27.23 points to 7,141.11.

Sydney: Buoyed by further gains in the gold price, the All Ordinaries index added 8.8 points to 1,773.

Johannesburg: Gold shares ended flat as profit-taking wiped out early gains. With the industrial index unchanged, the overall indicator edged up three points to 4,213.

Frankfurt: Shares closed at the day's highs after a surge in futures prices. The DAX index was 18.89 better at a 1993 peak of 1,719.76.

Paris: Recovering from an early downturn, the CAC-40 index ended 8.61 points ahead at 1,943.73.

Zurich: Sharp losses in Nestle and UBS drove the market lower. The SPI shed 7.81 points to 1,496.94.

Milan: Strong gains by Fiat were countered by weakness in telecommunications stocks. The MIB was just 0.08 per cent higher at 1,178.

London: Report, page 32.