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The Independent Online
'Independent' unit's euro bond

INDEPENDENT NEWS and Media (Finance), a wholly owned subsidiary of Independent Newspapers, owners of The Independent, yesterday became the first Irish company to raise money on the newly developed Eurobond market denominated in euros. INMF is raising 200m euros (pounds 131.9m) by issuing a 10- year bond repayable in May 2009 with an annual interest coupon of 5.75 per cent and priced to yield about 5.8 per cent initially.

Over two-thirds of the issue has been placed with a broad spread of European investors and the balance has been taken up by Irish investors, James Parkinson, finance director, said yesterday. It is also the largest debt issue to be lead-managed by an Irish securities house, Davy Stockbrokers. Independent Newspapers shares were up 1.5p at 307.5p on the day.

Gold won't rise

THE PRICE of gold will not rise this year, according to Philip Klapwijk, the managing director of Gold Fields Mineral Services, the independent London-based research agency. Economic growth and inflation are both expected to be very low and both are traditionally bad for gold prices. Only a stock market slump could spark investment demand, he said.

Howle makes bid

INDUSTRIAL CUTTING tools maker Howle Holdings has launched a pounds 6.3m hostile bid for rival Brooke Industrial Holdings. The offer is made on the basis of three new Howle shares, valued at 27.5p, for each Brooke share at 82.5p. Brook shares closed up 12p at 82p, but analysts felt the bid had some way to run yet.

Airbus $1.5bn sale

AIRBUS INDUSTRIE has won a $1.5bn (pounds 930m) order from the latest low-cost US airline, New Air. The New-York based carrier has decided to launch its service with a fleet of 25 Airbus A320 aircraft and has taken options and purchase rights on a further 50 jets.

Wickes sales up

SALES OF DIY equipment at Wickes ran 5.5 per cent ahead of last year in the first 15 weeks of the current year, compared with a forecast growth roughly in line with inflation, the chairman Michael von Brentano told the annual meeting yesterday. There are signs consumers are recovering confidence from the low point at the end of last year, the chairman said. The shares rose 9p to 359p.