Business and City in Brief

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ITV contractor in takeover talks

Television South West, the ITV contractor, which loses its franchise at the end of this month, said it was in discussions on a reverse takeover with an unnamed third party as an alternative to winding itself up.

There is speculation this could be UK Safety Group, a privately owned Bristol shoe maker seeking a Stock Exchange listing.

BAe Dutch row

Willem Maeyer, chairman of the Dutch dredging firm Ballast Nedam, 99 per cent owned by British Aerospace, has resigned over BAe's decision not to float Ballast or to sanction a management buyout. BAe acquired the firm in 1987 for dollars 90m.

Japan surplus up

Japan's current account surplus in October surged nearly 60 per cent to dollars 11.09bn as the sluggish economy suppressed demand for imports.

Society jobs go

Alliance & Leicester Building Society will shed 400 jobs over the next two years in Oadby, near Leicester, and Hove, East Sussex.

Brick wall

Blockleys, the brick manufacturer, is to close one plant and shut the rest until the end of February with the loss of 40 jobs.

Bridging loan

John Laing has been granted a pounds 66m loan from the European Investment Bank for the construction of its bridge across the River Severn.

China's Gatt bid

China said it would reduce tariffs on more than 3,000 imports, including crude oil and aircraft, as part of its drive to rejoin the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Nod for Tomkins

Tomkins said shareholders approved its pounds 950m bid for Ranks Hovis McDougall and the associated pounds 653m rights issue at an extraordinary meeting.

Spurs settles

Tottenham Hotspur plc said it had settled a claim for breach of contract by Ian Gray, former managing director, on an amicable basis. Mr Gray was claiming pounds 345,000 for alleged wrongful dismissal following the takeover of Spurs by Alan Sugar and Terry Venables last year.

Axe at Renault

The UK division of Renault will lay off 280 employees, more than half its workforce, in the next 18 months.

Reinsurer fails

Touche Ross partners were appointed provisional liquidators of Chancellor Insurance, the small, failed reinsurer that is trying to put together a scheme of arrangement to pay claims.

Russell named

Sir George Russell has been appointed a non-executive director of Taylor Woodrow. He has been chairman of Marley sine 1989 and became chairman of the Independent Television Commission in 1991

World Markets

New York: Employment figures and firmer bond prices helped lift the Dow Jones Average 12.15 points to 3,288.68 by the close.

Tokyo: The Nikkei average edged ahead 35.61 to 17,295.69 in lacklustre trading.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunting drove the Hang Seng index 289.89 higher at 5,268.10.

Sydney: Share prices closed flat with the All Ordinaries index up 1.4 at 1,435.2.

Johannesburg: A stronger financial rand weighed the overall index down 14 at 3,232.

Zurich: Blue chips gained ahead of tomorrow's referendum on membership of the European Economic Area. The SMI added 4.4 to 1,933.

Milan: Uncertainty over interest rates nudged the MIB index 0.6 per cent lower at 835.

Frankfurt: The DAX index shed 10.34 to 1,522.16.

Paris: Book-balancing ahead of the weekend lopped 17.75 off the CAC-40 index at 1,781.68 in thin volume.