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Mercury loses BT link battle

Mercury Communications has lost a legal battle with Oftel, the industry watchdog, over the terms on which it connects to BT's network. A Court of Appeal ruling has stopped the company obtaining an independent assessment of the agreement, which costs it an estimated pounds 450m a year. Mercury said it might appeal to the House of Lords.

Boost at Menzies

The highest-paid director of John Menzies, believed to be the group managing director, Ranald Noel-Paton, received a 24 per cent pay rise in the year to April, largely due to a pounds 28,000 performance-related bonus. Menzies' profits rose 12 per cent to pounds 34.4m.

Irish Steel slips

The Irish Steel Company moved towards closure after 60 craftsmen among the 560 workforce rejected a survival plan. The company began lay- offs and called an extraordinary general meeting for Monday to appoint a liquidator.

Holden's progress

Rob Holden has become finance director of VSEL, the submarine maker, following the departure of Norman Broadhurst to become finance director of Railtrack.

Dip at Bankers

Bankers Trust, the US investment banking group, reported profits of dollars 181m for its second quarter to 30 June, compared with dollars 251m a year ago.

Lehman options

The Chicago Board Options Exchange said it will start trading options on Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc on 4 August.

Kidder resignation

Edward Cerullo, executive managing director of General Electric Co's Kidder, Peabody & Co unit and head of its fixed income division, resigned yesterday, the latest casualty at the troubled US broker.

Alitalia jobs

Alitalia, the Italian state airline, which last week struck a deal with unions to shed 1,570 jobs voluntarily, said it cannot rule out further job losses if necessary.

Trade headquarters The World Trade Organisation has chosen Geneva rather than Bonn for its headquarters.

Coutts places

Yve Newbold, company secretary at Hanson, and David Went, chief executive of Coutts & Co, have become non-executive directors of Coutts, the Queen's bank.

World Markets

New York: A profit downgrading for McDonalds unsettled leaders but by the close the Dow Jones Average had recovered to 3,735.04, up 2.59.

Tokyo: Moderate losses in a lacklustre, directionless market took the Nikkei average 160.03 points lower to 20,462.89.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunters gained the upper hand late in the day to lift the Hang Seng index 35.33 points to 9,152.99.

Sydney: Nervousness over US monetary policy restricted the gain on the All Ordinaries index to 3.3 points at 2,052.6.

Bombay: The index edged up 6.71 points to 4,111.18 on the first day of the fortnightly account.

Johannesburg: A disappointing week, undermined by the uncertain gold price, ended with a 5- point loss by the index to 5,549.

Frankfurt: Chemical stocks lifted the market higher on the back of the stronger dollar. The DAX index added 30.55 to 2,150.26.

Paris: The higher dollar and hopes of interest rate cuts raised the CAC-40 12.37 to 2,041.41.

Zurich: Holding its gains in narrow-range afternoon trade, the SPI was 14.45 better at 1,720.12.

London: Report, page 13.