Business News in Brief

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The Independent Online
Unilever said it would combine the businesses of its Thomas J Lipton and Van den Bergh Foods companies in the US, creating a subsidiary with annual sales of $3bn (pounds 1.9bn). The move came as a result of a study initiated in June and would enable Unilever to "compete more effectively by becoming a more efficient and profitable business," said Richard Goldstein, Unilever North American Foods chief executive. Unilever will formulate a detailed plan for the merger by Christmas.

Senior Engineering has agreed to sell its Thermal Engineering division for pounds 28.5m. The business is being bought by Thermal Engineering International, a new company financed by, among others, Citicorp Venture Capital and interests connected to the family of Richard Grogan. In the 1995 year, Senior said the Thermal Engineering division made pounds 1.6m of operating profits on turnover of pounds 118.8m, but ran up a loss of pounds 237,000 on sales of pounds 60.7m in the half year to June.

Granada Sky Broadcasting, the joint-venture pay-TV service, launches today with seven new channels, including Granada Plus, a nostalgia channel featuring programmes from the Granada and London Weekend Television libraries. The service will be available to BSkyB's 3.8 million dish subscribers and to some cable customers. However, Telewest, the country's largest cable operator, said last night it was still committed to canvassing its subscribers before agreeing to carry the service.

September M0 in the UK rose by 0.2 per cent, roughly in line with economists' forecasts, and took the annual increase of notes and coins in circulation to 7 per cent. UK final M4 money supply was up 1 per cent in August from July.

Barclays is to inject 31bn yen (pounds 177m) into its subsidiary BZW Securities (Japan) to support its growth and increase its presence on the Japanese government bond market.

Rolls-Royce said its joint venture with Mersey Docks and Harbour had won a $155m (pounds 99m) port terminal contract in Argentina. The contract is to operate, maintain and develop an iron ore and coal bulk import terminal and steel products export terminal at San Nicolas, on the River Parana 150 miles north of Buenos Aires, on behalf of steel company Siderar.

The Office of Fair Trading is inviting comment by 14 October on whether the acquisition by Stagecoach Holdings of Hyndburn Transport, based in Lancashire, qualifies for investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

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