Business & City in Brief

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Bank buys London bullion dealer

Mase Westpac, the London-based gold bullion bank formerly owned by Johnson Matthey and a member of the gold-fixing group, is being acquired by Republic National Bank of New York from Westpac of Australia for an undisclosed amount.

Republic National, a gold and silver bullion dealer with deposits of dollars 17bn, plans to expand all Mase Westpac's operations.

Devro bangers a smash

Demand for shares in Devro, the sausage skin maker, far outstripped supply with the offer for shares 4.6 times subscribed. They will be allocated on a sliding measure: investors who wanted 1,000 shares will receive 550; those who applied for 5,000 will get 1,000. Applicants for 5 million or more will receive a 3 per cent allocation.

Japanese sales plunge

Retail sales in Japan fell 3.8 per cent in May from a year earlier to Y1,730bn (pounds 11.1bn), the twelfth consecutive year-on-year decline.

New Boeing jet

Boeing is to go ahead with a new generation of its 737 model featuring larger wings and new engines. The 737-X will seat up to 157 passengers on flights of up to 2,900 nautical miles, enabling it to fly transcontinental US routes. Analysts expect it to compete head-on with Airbus Industrie's A-320 and A-321.

Land Rover sales 'plan'

Land Rover North America, a unit of British Aerospace, had no comment on a report in Automotive News that it planned to quadruple sales in the US to 16,000 and establish exclusive dealerships. A company spokesman said the information had come from a private letter sent to dealers.

Guinness job fears

Guinness, the brewing giant, is negotiating with unions to shed as many as 400 of 900 jobs at its Dublin brewery through voluntary redundancy in a seven-year plan to increase competitiveness. Ten years ago the brewery employed 1,500.

Small business delay

The British Bankers Association and the Government are to redraw detailed criteria for the small business loan guarantee scheme over the next six months, but this will not delay the improved scheme coming into operation on Thursday.

Son of Taurus

A working party led by the Bank of England will on Thursday publish its report on a replacement for the Taurus share settlement project, abandoned in March at a cost to the Stock Exchange of nearly pounds 80m.

Renault axes 320

Renault will shed 320 of 1,185 workers at a plant in Setubal, Portugal, which makes the Clio because of a sharp downturn in sales.

Bond issues soar

International and foreign bond issues soared 49 per cent in the first four months of 1993 and the boom is likely to continue, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report. The volume of borrowing facilities arranged on the international capital markets to 20 April rose 38 per cent to dollars 256.3bn from the same period in 1992.

Hillsdown buyout

Hillsdown Holdings said its FMC unit sold an abattoir at Lamberhurst, Kent, and a lamb processing plant at Basildon, Essex, for an undisclosed sum in a management buyout.

World Markets

New York: Strength in the bond market filtered through to equities, which ended broadly higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 39.31 points at 3,530.20.

Tokyo: Buying by public sector pension funds helped the Nikkei average to 19,886.76, up 227.19.

Hong Kong: Blue chips led the market sharply higher, with the Hang Seng index recording a 134.02-point advance to 7,148.1.

Sydney: A stronger gold price boosted sentiment as the All Ordinaries index added 14.7 to 1,715.1.

Johannesburg: With the gold index hitting its best level in more than three years and industrial stocks little changed, the overall index put on 17 points to 4,074.

Frankfurt: Active buying in anticipation of an interest rate cut by the Bundesbank on Thursday took the DAX index 11.96 points ahead to 1,707.2, just blow the day's high.

Paris: Interest rate hopes fuelled the market here too, with the CAC- 40 index firming 30.11 to 1,990.95.

Zurich: Foreign buying helped the SPI to 1,492.1, a gain of 11.76 points.

Milan: Shares came off their peaks after Montedison's restatement of 1992 losses, but the MIB closed 1.02 per cent higher at 1,191.

London: Report, page 22.