Business and City in Brief (CORRECTED)

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Deutsche Bank takes 56% stake

Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, has taken a 56 per cent stake in Deutsche Herold, an insurer, in an unexpected step to strengthen its position in the lucrative private insurance market.

Hilmar Kopper, chairman, said the bank had paid more than DM350m ( pounds 126m).


Three-quarters of Britain's companies make no reference to environmental matters in their annual reports, according to a survey by Company Reporting.

Record GA issue

General Accident is raising pounds 140m through an issue of preference shares. The issue, lead managed by Hoare Govett, is the largest by a British insurance company. It was priced to yield 11.734 per cent, 250 basis points above the Treasury 9 per cent 2008 gilt.

Seagram lower

Seagram, one of the world's biggest drinks companies, saw net income fall from dollars 337m to dollars 319m in the half-year to 31 July. The fall reflected unremitted earnings from Du Pont of dollars 80m, down from dollars 134m.

Isosceles deal

Isosceles, the highly-borrowed group that owns Gateway supermarkets, announced that its banks, mezzanine financiers and shareholders had formally agreed on a refinancing.

Gold reserves fall

Gold reserves held by central banks have shown their first significant dip in at least three decades after holding remarkably stable since the 1960s.

Canadian cuts

Canadian banks announced they would lower their prime rate today to 6.25 per cent from 6.50. The rates are the lowest in 21 years and come after evidence of a further slowdown in the Canadian economy.

Abbey moves

Abbey National announced a management reshuffle aimed at grooming its best and brightest for eventual succession to top jobs, including that of chief executive. Charles Toner, Gareth Jones, Ian Harley and Bob Knighton are promoted on 1 October.

Athenaeum sold

Rank Organisation has sold the Athenaeum Hotel in Piccadilly, central London. Rank did not disclose the identity of the buyer but leisure analysts said the 112-bed hotel had been bought by a private firm for pounds 15m-20m.

BT pays up

Beckenham Group said it is to receive about pounds 2.25bn from BT after the completion of settlement arbitration proceedings.

World Markets

New York: Firmness in the bond market encouraged shares to edge forward. By the close the Dow Jones average was up 24.05 at 3,290.31.

Tokyo: Continuing its downward correction, the Nikkei average lost 152.34 to 17,587.72.

Hong Kong: Despite active profit-taking the Hang Seng index added 22.88 to 5,734.45.

Sydney: Disappointment with recent corporate earnings announcements was reflected in a 13.5-point fall by the All Ordinaries index to 1,528.5.

Bombay: Ahead of tomorrow's settlement date the index gave up 29.92 points to 3,040.57.

Paris: Euro Disney, up five francs at Fr77, was a main beneficiary as the CAC-40 index climbed more than 2 per cent in a futures-led advance. The gains left the indicator 37.18 points to the good at 1,711.41.

Frankfurt: In nervous trade the DAX slipped 12.03 to 1,506.67.

Milan: Speculative selling of leading stocks drove the MIB down 2.52 per cent to 736.

London: Report, page 33.


The Independent incorrectly reported on Thursday an amount of pounds 2.25bn to be paid to the Beckenham Group by BT after completion of arbitration proceedings. The correct figure is pounds 2.25m.