Business news in brief

CBA buys Caspian Resources stake

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has bought a 17 per cent stake in Caspian Resources, the London-based emerging markets investment bank founded by Christopher Heath, for an undisclosed sum. CBA, one of Australia's four main banks, said the stake in Caspian would provide it with additional distribution outlets in Asia and wider access to investors.

National Power looks to Indonesia

National Power is to take a 30 per cent stake worth $130m in an Indonesian company set up by a consortium planning to build a $1.6bn coal-fired power station. It is NP's first big project in Indonesia as part of the consortium. In a 30-year power purchase agreement, the Indonesian state-owned electricity corporation will buy power from the 1,320 megawatt plant.

BASF forecasts record results

BASF, the German chemicals group, expects to report its third consecutive set of record results in 1997. Chief executive Juergen Strube said sales should reach DM50bn (pounds 18.2bn) and earnings should grow at least as strongly as sales. He said BASF had enjoyed a strong start to the year marked by double-digit first-quarter sales growth, driven in part by higher domestic demand. Last year BASF posted a 5.5 per cent rise in sales to DM48.7bn marks. Pre-tax profits climbed 6.9 per cent to DM4.4bn.

pounds 16.8m Adas management buyout

Adas, the government agency specialising in agricultural research and consultancy, has been bought by its management and staff. The pounds 16.8m buyout was partly funded by 3i, the venture capital group, which will own 80 per cent of Adas. The Bank of Scotland provided debt facilities.

Car rental firms reject credit cards

Avis and Hertz, the car rental companies, have stopped allowing customers to use Visa and Mastercards to rent cars, according to the New York Times. Hertz was reported to have said the cards provided no qualification of creditworthiness.

Trafficmaster seals German deal

Trafficmaster is to supply its traffic system to the German autobahn through a 12-year licence agreement with Mannesmann, the German engineering and telecommunications group, and T-Mobil, a fully owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom .Trafficmaster chief executive David Martell said the deal would accelerate the adoption of Trafficmaster technology as original equipment in new cars.

Costain names Armitt as chief

Costain, the international engineering and construction group, has appointed John Armitt to succeed Alan Lovell as the group's new chief executive. Mr Armitt is currently managing director of Union Railways, which is responsible for developing the pounds 3bn Channel Tunnel rail link.

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