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McDonald's and Walt Disney have signed a 10-year global marketing agreement that gives the world's largest fast-food chain exclusive marketing rights for Disney products. Under the alliance, which starts next January, McDonald's will become Disney's primary promotional partner in the restaurant industry in 93 countries. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Lowes Financial Management, a large firm of financial advisers based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, has been fined pounds 30,000 plus pounds 28,000 costs by its regulator, Fimbra, after admitting a series of charges. These included failing to record financial information needed to give proper advice to clients, advising clients without being able to show how the advice would be to their benefit and failing to keep proper files to show whether its advice complied with rules.

Adams & Nevile Asset Management, a London-based firm of fund managers, has been fined pounds 20,000 by its regulator, Imro, and ordered to pay pounds 59,000 in compensation to its clients after admitting that it failed to ensure they understood the risks involved in their investments. The firm also accepted that it had engaged in corporate finance activities without Imro's permission and did not supply its clients with the information it was required to in regular statements to them.

The Association of British Insurers, the industry's trade body, said yesterday that sales of new life and pensions business in the first three months of this year were 9 per cent up on the same period in 1995. Regular premium payments into personal pensions grew to pounds 243m, up 16 per cent, while single premiums rose to more than pounds 1bn, a 28 per cent rise. Permanent health insurance premiums soared 27 per cent to pounds 14m. However, life insurance business rose only slightly, at 3 per cent, to about pounds 2.5bn.

Ford has agreed to sell all the assets of USL Capital's Rail Services unit to First Union Rail for $900m. Ford is pursuing the sale of other USL Capital businesses. USL Capital, which is a diversified commercial financing and leasing company, is part of Ford's financial services division. Ford said last year it would carry out a strategic review of its non- automotive financing businesses which could result in a partial or complete sale of USL Capital.

NEC, Japan's biggest chip maker, said profits more than doubled last year due to a global boom in personal computers. Net profits for the year to 31 March jumped to 77.2bn ($721m) from 35.3bn ($330m) a year earlier. NEC expects earnings to keep rising in the current year amid growing interest in the Internet and multimedia.

Toyota, Japan's top car maker, announced robust annual profits and said a weaker yen and more cost-cutting would contribute to further gains this year. It reported net profits of 257bn (pounds 1.7bn) last year, up 46 per cent, despite a slight slip in sales.