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The Independent Online
Virgin looks at BA offer

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways lawyers were last night working on an unspecified BA offer to settle the row over the 'dirty tricks' affair.

Richard Branson, the Virgin chairman, had threatened to break the talks off and go through the courts in the United States if there were no settlement yesterday, and the two sides were due to meet again at midnight to consider the latest proposals.

Confidence dips Consumer confidence in the US has fallen sharply, according to the Conference Board, whose index fell to 68.5 this month from 76.7 in January.

Lilley buyout

Price Waterhouse has sold the last part of Lilley Group, the engineering and construction conglomerate that went into receivership earlier this year. Robison & Davidson, which employs 710, has been bought by its management.

Chinese deal

AT&T has signed a manufacturing agreement with the Chinese government in a deal potentially worth billions of dollars. The deal initially involves a joint venture to produce telephone switching equipment.

Qantas boost

Qantas Airways has received a Adollars 1.35bn ( pounds 640m) capital injection from the Australian government. The recapitalisation involves the government assuming the airline's government-guaranteed debt in exchange for equity in the airline, 75 per cent of which is to be floated later this year.

More flights

Titan Airways is to begin a twice-daily service from London City airport to Belfast this summer, while Taiwan's EVA Air announced plans to fly from Gatwick to Taipei three times a week starting on 30 March.

Philips move

Philips Electronics, in a move expected to lead to more rationalisation in manufacturing, plans to consolidate the 1992 losses of Grundig, the German appliances group where it has a 31.6 per cent stake.

Drayton Asia bid

EFM Dragon, the investment trust bidding pounds 126m for Drayton Asia Trust, has won the support of investors holding 36.7 per cent of Drayton's shares. Edinburgh Fund Managers has offered to pay half the costs of terminating Drayton's investment management contract with Invesco MIM.

Cafe-bars sold

Baldwin, the leisure group, has bought the Muswell's cafe-bar and restaurant business from Allied-Lyons for pounds 2.65m.

World Markets

New York: Stocks fell in heavy trading on fears the administration's plans would slow the economy. The Dow closed 19.72 down at 3,323.27.

Tokyo: Continuing concern over the yen's strength kept trade quiet as the Nikkei average firmed 42.54 to 16,863.15.

Hong Kong: Fresh doubts about China's attitude to proposed voting reforms helped to send the Hang Seng index 82.69 points lower to 6,149.19.

Sydney: Prices closed firmer but well below their highs, with the All Ordinaries index 3.3 points ahead at 1,608.2.

Frankfurt: A large sell order for Bayer led the market downwards. The DAX index lost 19.16 points to 1,661.58.

Paris: A mild correction after recent sharp gains lowered the CAC-40 index 15.1 to 1,944.13.

Zurich: Heavy selling in the drug sector pulled the index down 20.57 points to 1,262.16.

Milan: With business concentrated on Fiat shares, the MIB edged up 0.18 per cent to 1,111.

London: Report, page 25.