Business & City Summary

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Lucas may lose all US defence work

Lucas Industries stands to lose all its American defence business following complaints by the US Navy of shoddy workmanship by a subsidiary.

A US Navy spokesman said he was 'awaiting guidance' on reports that it had stopped accepting shipments of Lucas 'accessory drives' for its F/A-18 fighter aircraft, which have been blamed for 167 emergency landings by the planes since the beginning of 1993.

Elf support

Elf Aquitaine clarified confusion about its support for Enterprise Oil's hostile bid for Lasmo by voting in favour of the takeover. Elf, which owns 11 per cent of Enterprise, joined an overwhelming majority of shareholders to back the bid at an extraordinary meeting called by Enterprise.

Bank jobs go

National Westminster Bank is sacking 300 information technology staff and Barclays' investment bank, BZW, is cutting 18 jobs from its back office.

Coffee plunges

Coffee prices plunged to a low of dollars 2,030 a tonne following the release of stocks by coffee producers. Coffee has tumbled more than dollars 400 a tonne in the past two days, but prices are still above the dollars 1,150 February low.

Coal attraction

The sale of British Coal has attracted 33 bids from pre-qualifiers, according to the merchant bank NM Rothschild, which is advising the Government.

Argent price

Argent Group, the property investment company, is raising pounds 27m in its forthcoming float. Shares will be sold at 255p, a 5 per cent discount to net assets and its initial market capitalisation will be pounds 140m.

Brewin float

Brewin Dolphin, the private client fund manager and stockbroker, is coming to the market capitalised at pounds 30.9m. Shares are being placed at 150p each.

Appeal lost

Brian Worth, former chairman of Clark Kenneth Leventhal, the international accounting group, lost his appeal against the ruling by the Institute of Chartered Accountants' disciplinary committee that he failed to supervise adequately the work of Nicholas Young, the firm's former executive director jailed in 1990 for defrauding investors of more than pounds 7m.

Family go-ahead

Family Assurance Friendly Society has received the go-ahead from its members to proceed with the pounds 1.75m acquisition of Templeton Life.

World Markets

New York: Weakness in Philip Morris weighed on sentiment, and by the close the Dow Jones was down 1.84 points at 3,753.46 in thin volume.

Tokyo: The strong yen triggered a late decline, with the Nikkei average 126.32 down at 20,595.19.

Hong Kong: A fall in property shares more than offset gains in other sectors. The Hang Seng index lost 39.66 points to 9,481.71.

Sydney: Weakness in mining and banks lowered the All Ordinaries nine points to 2,096.9.

Bombay: Good company results helped the index to record a 28.07-point gain at 3,733.4.

Johannesburg: Gold shares led the market lower as bullion came under pressure. The overall index dipped 95 points to 5,393.

Paris: Prices stabilised after Wednesday's heavy losses, with the CAC-40 index clawing back 7.48 points to 2,091.89.

Frankfurt: Futures-linked selling of blue chips lowered the DAX index 8.52 to 2,130.25.

Zurich: Short-covering helped the SPI to 1,768.41, up 9.92.

London: Report, page 24.