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Norwegian bank and insurer merge

In the latest example of the European trend towards "bancassurance", Norway's Christiania Bank and the country's leading insurer, Storebrand, announced merger plans yesterday to form the largest financial group in Norway and the sixth-biggest in the Nordic region.

The new company, Christiania Group, will have a market capitalisation of about NKr26bn (pounds 2.4bn) and be the second-largest listed company on the Oslo Stock exchange after industrial giant Norsk Hydro. The companies said they hoped to complete the deal by year-end following government approval. Norway's overcrowded banking sector has been undergoing consolidation since the late 1980s and further mergers had been expected in the battle for market share as margins shrank.

Drugs group forms US link

Zeneca Diagnostics, the DNA diagnostics developer which is part of the international Zeneca group, has linked up with California-based Oncotech to carry out research into the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Research into new genetic tests for cancer will take place in both America and Britain.