Business & City Summary

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Alliance doubles mortgage lending

Alliance & Leicester Building Society more than doubled its mortgage lending to pounds 1.1bn in the six months to the end of June. The increase helped to boost the society's interim profits by 45 per cent to pounds 134m. It also increased its share of the building society lending market from 3.8 to 6.4 per cent.

Profits were helped by a decrease in bad debt provision of nearly 72 per cent from pounds 67m last year to pounds 19m. The bad debt provision is based on the probability that a borrower in arrears will be repossessed. Total arrears fell by 25 per cent and the number of properties repossessed fell by 40 per cent.

Flotation fortunes

Neville Davis, chairman and chief executive of the personal computer supplier Compel, will make pounds 4.5m when the company floats on the London Stock Exchange. The other six directors are set to make pounds 3m in total and the 230 employees will receive pounds 3.5m - an average of pounds 150,000 each. Mr Davis led a management buyout in 1987, investing pounds 175,000 in a 23 per cent stake.

New data chief

Elizabeth France, a former civil servant, is to become data protection registrar, the computer information watchdog, replacing Eric Howe, who retires this week after 10 years. She takes over at a time when the registrar's office is embroiled in a dispute with credit agencies and other organisations over the data they are allowed to store.

Porsche cuts price

Porsche is reducing its suggested US retail prices by as much as dollars 12,550 on some of its 1995 models.

Water diversion

Welsh Water is to join UK Highways, an Anglo-French consortium bidding to design, build and operate new roads. The partners in the joint company include the construction groups Tarmac and John Laing and Transroute, a French company which owns and operates toll roads around the world. At least six other consortia are believed to be bidding for the work.

Vision stake

A publicly quoted American cinema group, GC Companies, has paid pounds 30m for a 36 per cent stake in Vision Express, the British optical superstore operator. Vision Express, which has 62 stores, will use the funds to expand its chain to 120.

Airline shake-up

American Airlines plans to restructure its headquarters management and administrative staff as part of a plan to save dollars 1bn in operating expenses.

World Markets

New York: Strong buying had pushed the the Dow Jones Industrial Average 18.45 points ahead to 3,917.30 by the close - its best level for more than six months.

Tokyo: Unusually tight-range trading left the Nikkei average just 8.3 points easier at 20,592.12.

Hong Kong: Wall Street's overnight rally and good corporate results combined to send the Hang Seng 287.48 - more than 3 per cent - higher to 9,686.56.

Sydney: Buying in the resources sector offset profit-taking to leave the All Ordinaries index 4.7 points better at 2,116.5.

Bombay: Closed (holiday).

Johannesburg: Gold shares provided the sparkle as the overall index added 23 points to 5,846 despite late selling pressure.

Frankfurt: The firmer dollar provided support, with the DAX index moving up 17.66 points to 2,210.85 in quiet trade.

Paris: Ending a five-day winning streak, the CAC-40 index slipped 14.9 points to 2,060.37.

Zurich: The Swiss Performance Index eased 1.06 to 1,744.35.

Milan: Shares closed lower in the absence of fresh incentives.

London: Report, page 26.