In Brief

Tarmac has been told to repay pounds 19.9m to the Government. In December 1992 Tarmac acquired PSA Projects from the Department of the Environment, but both sides were unable to agree certain elements of the deal and the disputed items were referred to an independent expert in October 1995. Tarmac's legal advisers are reviewing the expert's decision.

French industrial production fell sharply in October for the second month in a row, providing further evidence that the economy was set to end the year on a weak note, official figures showed. Industrial production, excluding energy, dropped 0.8 per cent in October from September. Manufacturing output, which excludes energy, agri-food businesses and construction, fell 1.2 per cent month-on-month.

Offer, the electricity industry regulator, will reduce the Fossil Fuel Levy from 3.7 to 2.2 per cent from 1 April. The new rate should be sufficient to cover renewable energy commitments and the payments due to the non-privatised part of the nuclear industry, it said. Following the flotation of British Energy, the levy in respect of nuclear commitments will cease from 1 April 1998.

Premier Farnell has conditionally agreed to sell Farnell Electronic Services, its volume electronic components distribution business, to Arrow Electronics of the US for $300m (pounds 180m) cash.

Ofgas, the industry regulator, warned that there may be greater interruptions for the larger of British Gas's TransCo customers this winter. Ofgas said in a statement that British Gas TransCo had suggested that with the construction of new power stations, which burn large amounts of gas, and some delays in planned production, the demand for gas might outstrip supply, leading to increased interruptions for larger customers.

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