Business in Brief

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The Independent Online
World Markets

New York: Trading was hesitant ahead of Friday's important employment figures for March. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.17 points higher at 3,457.27.

Tokyo: The Nikkei Average shed 85.22 to 18,963.16 as investors took advantage of recent gains.

Hong Kong: Share prices rocketed after reports, later denied, that Governor Chris Patten could step down because of the dispute with China. The Hang Seng firmed 83.59 to 6,406.49.

Sydney: Profit-taking after early gains left the All Ordinaries index 1.2 better at 1,678.2.

Johannesburg: Heavy overseas demand on a sharply higher bullion price sent the gold index soaring 43 points to 1,170.

Milan: Increasing political concerns drove the MIB index 2.23 per cent lower at 1,053.

Frankfurt: Continuing hopes of lower interest rates boosted the DAX index 10.15 points to 1,658.07.

Paris: Shares gained for the fifth successive session with the CAC-40 index ending up 2.05 at 2,035.91.

Maxwell trio face charges after arrest

Kevin Maxwell, Larry Trachtenberg and Robert Bunn, the former finance director of the Maxwell private companies, are to be charged with further offences after the arrest of a fifth man in the Maxwell case, Albert Fuller, former group treasurer of the Maxwell empire.

Mr Fuller, 41, of Leighton Buzzard, was arrested yesterday after turning up for questioning by the Serious Fraud Office and was charged with conspiracy to defraud Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank.

The full charge states that, between June 1990 and December 1991, he conspired with Robert and Kevin Maxwell and Messrs Trachtenberg and Bunn to defraud Credit Suisse by dishonestly and falsely representing that a wholly-owned subsidiary of Robert Maxwell Group, the Maxwell family's main private company, owned shares used as collateral for loans to RMG. It has emerged since that the shares belonged to the Maxwell pension funds.

June debut for Zeneca

ICI will publish details of its demerger and planned pounds 1.3bn rights issue on 12 May and dealings in Zeneca, its pharmaceuticals offshoot, will start on 1 June. The company published the demerger timetable yesterday alongside news of a joint venture with Amersham International through which Zeneca will sell Metastron, a treatment for bone pain, developed by Amersham. Under the timetable, ICI will publish a prospectus for Zeneca - without the share price - on 21 April. The share price will be announced three weeks later.

Castorama stake placed

A Fr1.9bn (pounds 240m) stake in France's biggest DIY retailer Castorama, which recently came under the Kingfisher acquisition microscope, was placed with institutions worldwide. Kleinwort Benson Securities placed the 28.8 per cent stake on behalf of Carrefour, the supermarkets group, at a price of Fr550 share, slightly below the market price of Fr565.

One into two at Welsh

Welsh Water is to split the roles of chairman and chief executive from 1 April following the retirement of John Elfed Jones. Iain Evans, deputy chairman, will become chairman on a part-time basis. Graham Hawker, group managing director, will become chief executive.

Dresdner seeks pounds 578m

Dresdner Bank will issue 4 million new shares in a two-for-19 rights issue priced at DM350 (pounds 144.62) a share to raise DM1.4bn on the stock market. The new shares will be eligible for 75 per cent of the 1993 dividend.

Pounds 40m Racal contract

Racal Datacom, a Racal Electronics subsidiary, has been named 'preferred supplier' to BT in a three-year contract worth pounds 40m, virtually guaranteeing sales of hardware that allows computers to communicate.

Statistics made easy

The Central Statistical Office said that for the first time businesses can look at comparable product statistics for each EC country broken down into imports, exports and domestic production. The CSO's new Prodcom system provides information for market analysis.

French jobless top 3m

French unemployment topped 3 million in February for the first time, the Labour Ministry said. The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed rose 31,400, or 1 per cent over January, taking the total to a record high of 3,024,000, or 10.6 per cent of the workforce.

Sedgwick's pounds 11m buy

Sedgwick Group, the insurance brokers, paid pounds 11.4m for a 94.9 per cent stake in Medisure Marketing and Management and its subsidiaries.

New York: Trading was hesitant ahead of Friday's important employment figures for March. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.17 points higher at 3,457.27.

Tokyo: The Nikkei Average shed 85.22 to 18,963.16 as investors took advantage of recent gains.

Hong Kong: Share prices rocketed after reports, later denied, that Governor Chris Patten could step down because of the dispute with China. The Hang Seng firmed 83.59 to 6,406.49.

Sydney: Profit-taking after early gains left the All Ordinaries index 1.2 better at 1,678.2.

Johannesburg: Heavy overseas demand on a sharply higher bullion price sent the gold index soaring 43 points to 1,170.

Milan: Increasing political concerns drove the MIB index 2.23 per cent lower at 1,053.

Frankfurt: Continuing hopes of lower interest rates boosted the DAX index 10.15 points to 1,658.07.

Paris: Shares gained for the fifth successive session with the CAC-40 index ending up 2.05 at 2,035.91.

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