In Brief

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The Independent Online
The Penguin executive in the US who cost Pearson, the company's owner, pounds 100m in losses, has been identified as Christina Galatro, a former credit manager in the New Jersey offices. She is alleged to have given unauthorised discounts to booksellers.

NatWest has emerged as a contender in the bidding war for Scottish Amicable, joining Prudential, Abbey National and AMP in the contest. It has signed a confidentiality agreement that allows access to the sale documents. A NatWest spokesman said the group was interested in making an acquisition in the long-term savings and investment market. But City sources pointed out that NatWest had pulled out of previous bids for life insurers and may be deterred by the escalating prices being offered for ScotAm.

Interest rates were set to rise to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year from their current level of 6 per cent, but would remain unchanged in the run-up to the general election, Barclays Bank said. A change of government following the election would not alter the outlook for a rise in rates, the bank said.

Harrods is understood to have abandoned plans for a flotation that could have valued the store at up to pounds 2bn. The decision to change course comes after spending a substantial amount of money investigating a possible flotation, hiring Salomon Brothers, the investment bank, and Cazenove, the brokers.

Mondex UK, the electronic cash card company, is taking a 10 per cent stake in Girovend, the cashless systems business due to float next month. The move will give Mondex access to Girovend's 3 million customers, mostly businesses which issue Girovend cards to staff for use in canteens and vending machines.

London Bridge Software is to seek a full listing on the Stock Exchange within the next month or so. The company is to raise more than pounds 10m, most of which will be reinvested in the business. The listing is to be sponsored by Deloitte & Touche corporate finance. London Bridge supplies software for credit management and automated credit risk scoring.

Ultra Electronics Holdings has won a pounds 48m contract to supply acoustic systems for the British Aerospace Nimrod 2000, the next generation of maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Air Force.

The rump businesses of Hanson, the industrial conglomerate, will be reborn as "new Hanson" today. Trading in shares in the company and in The Energy Group begins tomorrow, marking the end of the two-year process of breaking up the organisation. Shareholders approved the demerger of The Energy Group, which includes Hanson's coal and electricity interests, on Friday.