Business news in brief

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Britain's Cornhill Insurance, part of German insurer Allianz Group, announced 1996 profits down 16 per cent from the previous year's record level to pounds 61.6m. Ray Treen, Cornhill's chief executive, said the figures were satisfactory in an extremely competitive market. For 1996 general insurance profits fell to pounds 30m from pounds 46.1m and life profits to pounds 5.9m from pounds 6.9m.

TT Group's shares rose 13p to 348p after it announced annual pre-tax profits up 19.2 per cent to pounds 53.5m from pounds 44.9m last time. TT Group joint chief executives Sheridan Comonte and Michael Eke said the company's order book levels "give rise to optimism" for 1997. Earnings per share was 22.7p against 19.5p last time, and TT paid a final dividend of 4.79p, making 7.59p for the full year against 6.52p for 1995.

Rexam's healthcare packaging arm has signed a global agreement to supply medical packaging and component products to Allegiance Healthcare Corporation. The agreement, which runs until 2003, represents approximately $280m in sales and is the largest contract awarded for medical packaging. Rexam's healthcare packaging division has current sales of about pounds 180m.

ASW Holdings plunged to a pounds 51.7m loss for the year to December 1996 against a profit of pounds 13.8m last time. The steel company said it was dependant on the construction industry, which continued to be depressed. It passed the final dividend. ASW said it planned to continue to improve production efficiency and to complete the cost cutting started in the UK and France last autumn.