In Brief

Louis de Bievre, a member of the managing board of ABN Amro, the Dutch bank which owns UK broker Hoare Govett, resigned yesterday after his wife was linked to an insider dealing case. ABN Amro said the case involved Mr De Bievre's wife who, in 1992, had traded shares in a listed company when she knew of "certain specific" information about the company as a result of comments by her husband. The matter was settled out of court and ABN Amro said the public prosecutor had informed it that it was Mr De Bievre's wife, and not Mr De Bievre, who was guilty of insider dealing. "The managing board respects Mr De Bievre's decision and regrets that his long and successful career with the bank has ended in this way," ABN Amro said. Jill Treanor

The proportion of industrial companies following the recommendations of the Cadbury report on corporate governance and appointing non-executive chairmen has risen from 63 per cent to 72 per cent in the past year, according to a report published today. The latest survey on non-executive director practice and fees from the remuneration advisers Monks Partnership also shows that 47 per cent of companies have increased the fees paid in that time. Non-executive directors, other than part-time chairmen and deputy chairmen, saw fees rise by about pounds 2,000, to pounds 15,000 for smaller companies and pounds 24,000 for those with turnover of pounds 1bn or more. Fees in financial organisations were roughly in line. Roger Trapp

Graham Allen, chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds investment committee, yesterday gave qualified backing to moves to introduce the American-style book-building process into the City, as an alternative to traditional rights issues. However, he urged that finance directors should disclose the cost and justify the technique if they used it.

Comment, page 21

Courtaulds, the chemical group, warned the strength of the pound and sales of businesses last year was limiting an underlying improvement in current trading. The group also announced a 25,000 tonnes a year cut in viscose production capacity, a fifth of its European total, at its Grimsby plant in the UK. Courtaulds blamed continuing over-capacity in the market, despite recent cut-backs by Spanish and German producers. A spokesman said the move, which is not expected to result in redundancies among the 90 workers affected, would help tighten the market and allow the group to pull out of less profitable activities.

ED&F Man Group has agreed to acquire Cargill Incorporated's molasses and animal liquid products division for $48.5m (pounds 30m) in cash. The company said the acquisition of MLPD was expected to be earnings-enhancing in the first full year of ownership. In addition, it will also acquire the inventory and trade receivables of MLPD, which are estimated to be about $50m. MLPD operates from 13 terminal sites in the US and five in the UK. It also has facilities in Italy, Germany, Spain and the Philippines.

Farringford said it was in discussions likely to lead to the reverse takeover of Lingfield Park 1991, the operator of Lingfield racecourse. The consideration would be partly satisfied by the issue of new ordinary shares at a price of around 10p each, the company said. The majority shareholder in Lingfield, TJH Group, is also a big shareholder in Farringford and the acquisition would therefore be subject to the approval of independent shareholders. Farringford's shares were suspended at 14p.

MEPC, the property company, will move its headquarters in early 1998 and outsource its non-core facilities management and site-based staff in order to concentrate its high-quality facilities management on those buildings where this level of service clearly adds value. The outsourcing involves 340 properties and affects 400 staff. "Terms have been agreed with Nelson Bakewell and Jones Lang Wootton to take on approximately half this total [properties]. The rest will be dealt with over the next three months," MEPC said.

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