Heavy trading marks New Holland debut

Nearly 10 per cent of the shares in New Holland, the British-based tractor manufacturer, changed hands yesterday as trading began in New York following its $3.22bn (pounds 2bn) flotation by parent company Fiat of Italy.

In early trading the stock fell from the issue price of $21.50 to $21.12 as more than 12 million shares were traded.

Fiat, which formed New Holland in 1991 after taking over Ford's tractor business based at Basildon, Essex, sold 46.5 million shares representing 31 per cent of the company, raising just short of $1bn. The shares were priced in the middle of the indicated $20-$23 range.

New Holland is the biggest tractor manufacturer in Europe and the third- biggest in the US after John Deere and Case. It employs 19,000 world-wide, of which 2,400 are in Britain.

In addition to the Basildon plant, New Holland has its headquarters in Brentford, west London.

Last year the company made net profits of $258m on sales of $5bn.