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The Independent Online
EC CLOSER TO DEAL ON HIGH-DEFINITION TV

The European Community yesterday made progress towards an agreement on high-definition television (HDTV). A deal, blocked so far by Britain, should be possible at the next meeting of EC telecommunications ministers, British and Commission sources said.

This would clear the way for a plan worth hundreds of millions of pounds that would change the way broadcasters, television manufacturers and programme producers work. The development came as Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp, said he was interested in developing software for HDTV.

BANKRUPTCY FOR HAFNIA

Hafnia Holdings, the Danish insurance group that reported a record loss of 9.15bn kroner ( pounds 973m) last month, has filed for bankruptcy, finally brought down by the aggressive expansion that led it to acquire stakes in its Scandinavian rivals, Baltica and Skandia. Creditors are expected to recover less than 30 per cent of their money. Sun Alliance has bought Hafnia's Danish insurance interests.

GOLD EXCESS

Gold demand exceeded supply by 725 tonnes last year and the margin could increase further in 1993, Gold Fields Mineral Services said in its annual review of the market. Jewellery demand in China is an important source of the new demand and Gold Fields also said the Chinese government mopped up a large part of the 400 tonnes of gold sold last year by the Dutch central bank.

FIMBRA SUSPENSIONS

Fimbra, the regulator for financial advisers, has suspended Provincial Financial Management of Aberdare, Mid Glamorgan, and Desmond Herbert Finance and Insurance Services of Leeds.

RULES FOR AUDITORS

Auditors will have to provide information on the responsibilities of directors and auditors and describe the basis for their opinions under the first Statement of Auditing Standards issued since the Auditing Practices Board was set up two years ago. Accountancy & Management, page 26.

KPMG SUCCESSION

Colin Sharman will succeed Jim Butler as senior partner of KPMG Peat Marwick, the UK's second- largest firm of accountants and management consultants, on 1 January 1994.

FORTE DOWNGRADED

Moody's, the credit rating agency, downgraded the senior debt of Forte, the hotels group, from A3 to BAA1.

GERMAN COKE PLANTS

Coca-Cola is to build two new bottling plants and a distribution centre in eastern Germany this year at a total cost of more than DM250m.

NEW HOLLAND CUTS

New Holland Ford, the tractor manufacturer, is to cut 150 jobs because of a slump in European sales. The redundancies, which the company said will be voluntary, will hit the factory at Basildon in Essex, where 2,300 people are employed.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Blue chip stocks closed with pared gains after rallying most of the day on a strong bond market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 6.09 points higher at 3,443.28 points.

TOKYO: The Nikkei 225 index closed 243.35 higher at 21,054.71, despite prices coming under pressure from futures selling.

HONG KONG: The Hang Seng index fell 59.11 to 6,739.23 as banking shares came under pressure.

SINGAPORE: Share prices slipped on selective selling of blue-chip issues. The Straits Times Industrial index lost 2.8 to 1,772.02.

BRUSSELS: Share prices closed higher, led by rises in interest rate-sensitive stocks. The BEL 20 index rose 4.65 to 1,187.56.

FRANKFURT: Dull trading left stocks mixed to lower. The DAX index finished 2.89 down at 1,609.03.

MADRID: Prices eased. The general index fell 0.9 to 240.39.

MILAN: Share prices closed down but off opening lows. The MIB index fell 1.92 per cent to 1,177.

SYDNEY: Concerns over prospects for a rebound in industrial sector earnings hit prices. The All Ordinaries index slipped 13.3 to 1,672.0.

LONDON: Report, page 22.

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