IN BRIEF

Railtrack has invited suppliers to bid for pounds 1bn worth of work on track renewals between 1998 and 2002, the first time the group has offered tenders for more than one year's business. The four year contracts will have options to extend to seven years, based on performance, Railtrack said yesterday. The new deals, which also include related haulage work during track replacement, are likely to put further pressure on costs in the privatised rail industry. They replace contracts agreed while Railtrack was in the public sector. The announcement is part of the group's pounds 16bn scheme to investment in railway infrastructure over the next 10 years.

ICI shareholders yesterday approved the pounds 5bn takeover of Unilever's speciality chemicals businesses at an extraordinary general meeting in London. Sir Ronald Hempel, chairman, said the public offering of the group's 62 per cent stake in ICI Australia was proceeding and the arrangements for the flotation of the Tioxide venture were continuing.

Sir Richard Greenbury, chairman of Marks & Spencer and former head of the committee on executive pay, netted a profit of pounds 242,000 yesterday after cashing in options. Sir Richard exercised 87,789 options at 254p, selling on the resulting shares at 530p. He retains a holding of 42,432 shares in the company.

Boots finance director David Thompson yesterday netted a paper profit of pounds 135,000 after exercising options to buy 45,000 shares at 438p. He later sold 35,000 shares in the company at 738-1/2p per share to realise him a gain of pounds 105,000

British Interactive Broadcasting, the digital television company set up last month by BSkyB, British Telecom, Matsushita Electric and Midland Bank, is to talks with Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, about offering its interactive services to schools. It is understood that BIB made a presentation to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, before the election.

Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries announced a pounds 2.6m exceptional charge to cover a change in its lager brands from Harp to Foster's and Heineken Cold Filtered. The pounds 2.6m charge, to be taken in this year's accounts, will cover the cost over the next four years for settling existing supplier contracts and the operational expense of the changeover.

Centrica, the demerged British Gas supply group, yesterday announced that Simon Waugh, managing director of Saga Services, would take up the post of group director of marketing. Roy Gardner, chief executive of Centrica, said the appointment completed the company's senior management line-up.

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