Offer, the electricity watchdog, has ruled out an early introduction of competition in the domestic electricity market.
The regional electricity companies have a monopoly over domestic and other small customers until 1998, but there had been speculation that the date of expiry would be brought forward to 1996, when the Government plans to end the domestic monopoly held by British Gas.
The value of acquisitions and mergers by industrial and commercial companies fell from pounds 2.8bn in the fourth quarter of 1993 to pounds 2.7bn in the first quarter of 1994, the Central Statistical Office said yesterday.
The Department of the Environment released figures yesterday showing the total orders received by contractors for construction work in Britain in the first quarter of the year was5 per cent down on the fourth quarter of 1993, but 10 per cent up on a year earlier, after inflation and seasonal changes.
Shares in Nightfreight, the express parcel group coming to the market, have been priced at 105p, valuing the company at pounds 47.3m. About 16 million shares are being placed, with expectations of raising about pounds 16.14m. Dealing starts on Monday.
Sir Colin Southgate, chairman of Thorn EMI and PowerGen and a member of the Court of the Bank of England, is to oversee the Treasury's fundamental review of its own organisation and staffing.
The French logistics operation of NFC has bought the chill distribution companies SNT and Arden-Frigor SA for pounds 4m plus assumed debt of pounds 5.8m. The total revenue of the acquired companies in 1993 was about pounds 15.1m.
Higher fixed rates
Fixed-rate mortgages at Abbey National have been re-priced since Monday with increases of at least 0.5 of a percentage point. A four-year fixed-rate mortgage for those purchasing a home has risen from 7.55 per cent to 8.2 per cent, while the rate for remortgagees has risen from 8.4 to 9 per cent.
Harrington Kilbride, the publishing group, said its chairman Sir Roland Smith would retire at the end of May on medical advice to reduce his business and public commitments.
New York: Prices moved sharply higher after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. A late afternoon surge lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 49.11 points to 3,720.61.
Tokyo: Gains in futures pulled prices off their lows. The Nikkei average shed 54.91 to 20,133.53.
Hong Kong: Fearing a rise in US interest rates, jittery investors took profits. The Hang Seng index fell 208.71 points to 9,044.7.
Sydney: Lack of follow-through buying after Monday's gains left the All Ordinaries index 14.9 points easier at 2,096.
Bombay: Leading shares lost ground while others showed little change. The index dipped 41.92 points to 3,802.17.
Johannesburg: A correction after recent gains lowered the overall index 41 points to 5,457.
Frankfurt: Extremely thin volume saw the DAX index surrender 11.4 points to 2,259.71.
Paris: A market subdued by the uncertain interest rate outlook took the CAC-40 index 7.47 points higher to 2,195.17.
Zurich: Buying in selected blue chips lifted the Swiss Performance Index 8.1 to 1,784.09.
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