Business in brief

The number of companies going into receivership increased in the first half of the year, although the overall trend is down, according to accountants KPMG. Between 1 January and 30 June, there were 656 receiverships, 5 per cent up on the second half of last year but down 14 per cent on the first half of 1996. The only area where there was a rise was in the North-west.

German companies have overtaken British businesses as the most attractive takeover targets in the European Union for overseas corporate investors, according to another survey by KPMG.

In the first six months of the year pounds 8.8bn of foreign corporate investment flowed into Germany, a six-fold increase on the first half of last year. Acquisitions by international companies in the UK fell 40 per cent to $11.6bn - the first decline for more than three years. KPMG said the decline was probably due to the strong pound and the UK's stance on the single currency.

A City-based outplacement consultancy called Fairplace Consulting is set to float on AIM on 28 July to raise pounds 765,000, valuing the business at pounds 3.7m. The business was founded in 1992 by chairman Mark Allsup and Colyn Gardner, a non-executive director, and specialises in the financial sector. Nominated advisers are Grant Thornton and brokers are Ellis & Partners.

Ribo Targets, a new biotechnology company formed by a research team at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, has received pounds 7m from four private equity funds. Ribo will use the funds to research and develop a new generation of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C.