Business & City summary

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The Independent Online
Direct insurance rival in pipeline

A move to launch a company to compete with direct insurers such as Direct Line and Churchill is being organised by a brokers' trade body.

The Institute of Insurance Brokers is holding talks with City institutions over funding for the new company, which it hopes will be ready to supply at least 500 of the UK's 3,000 brokers with cheap motor insurance quotes by mid-1995.

MMC held to account

The Monopolies and Mergers Commission has been told to start publishing its annual accounts after undergoing an efficiency review. The MMC employs 90 and has an annual budget of pounds 5.5m.

Nationwide buy

Nationwide Building Society has acquired a pounds 70m residential mortgage portfolio from Lehman Brothers, part of which comes from a pounds 250m parcel originally bought in December from Bear Stearns, another mortgage lender.

Melville shuts shop

Melville, the exhibition services group, said it had asked Barclays Bank, acting for a syndicate of banks, to appoint administrative receivers. Its shares were suspended at 4.5p in May, when the group was negotiating the sale of a substantial part of its business. Melville made a pre-tax loss of pounds 1.18m on turnover of pounds 77.5m last year.

Mercury's free call

Mercury One-2-One has called for more freedom to market its services as a package with fixed wire telephone links. The company says it should be allowed to buy wholesale capacity from BT and other operators and sell it to customers.

Northumbrian accepts

Northumbrian Water has decided to accept a new price cap announced last week by the regulator, Ofwat. The alternative, rejected at a board meeting yesterday, is to appeal to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Balsam court action

Bankruptcy proceedings for Balsam AG, the German sports surfacing group, opened in the district court in the German town of Bielefeld. Balsam was forced into bankruptcy after its entire management board was arrested on suspicion of fraud.

Shanghai rockets

Shanghai's 'A' share index had rocketed 36.14 per cent by the close on a buying frenzy after Beijing announced a freeze on all new listings and issues this year. The index gained 118.83 points to 447.68.

World Markets

New York: The market came off opening lows, helped by renewed buying in cyclical issues. By the close the Dow Jones average was 33.67 ahead at 3,798.17.

Tokyo: The thinnest trade in nearly three months left the Nikkei average 178.04 points in arrears at 20,271.35.

Hong Kong: Soaring property stocks drove the Hang Seng up 200.87 (2.12 per cent) to 9,683.68.

Sydney: A Wall Street-inspired rally took the All Ordinaries index to a two-month high of 2,082.1, up 20.6 points.

Bombay: Maintaining Friday's buoyant trend, the index added 85.18 points to 4,276.48.

Johannesburg: Shares ended mixed, with the overall index just one point off at 5,651.

Paris: Profit-taking eroded small morning gains, leaving the CAC- 40 index 5.41 easier at 2,069.58.

Frankfurt: In dull trade the DAX firmed 7.15 to 2,153.79.

Zurich: Closed (holiday).

Milan: Shares edged higher in very thin trading as investors awaited political developments.

London: Report, page 24.