In Brief

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The Independent Online
Most personal pensions are a rip-off, according to research published today by the consumer magazine Which?. After analysing more than 100 pensions and rating them on flexibility, charges, portability and their performance, Which? concluded that most personal pensions are too complex, too inflexible and too expensive. It said the Government should start afresh with its legislation and recommended Peps as a good model for simpler pension plans. Which? ranked personal pensions from Colonial Direct, Equitable Life, Gartmore and M&G as among the "best buys". Among the "worst buys" are Albany Life, Barclays Life, Lincoln National, Scottish Equitable and United Friendly. "Take out one of the worse pensions and your retirement income could be halved," said Which?

The four partners in Airbus Industrie meet in Toulouse today in a bid to reach agreement on converting the aircraft manufacturer into a fully commercial enterprise. The partners, among them British Aerospace with a 20 per cent stake, had intended to sign a binding memorandum of understanding by Christmas, paving the way for a changeover in 1999. But agreement has been held up by a dispute over the structure of the new company and the extent of its powers.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called on the Hampel Committee on corporate governance to refine the performance-related pay criteria for directors. The ABI also suggests that disclosure of the relevant parts of a director's remuneration package could be made in a "more readily identifiable way". The ABI says it is "unfortunate" that a number of companies have used the Greenbury recommendations to give long-term incentive plans (L-tips) in additional to existing remuneration and incentive schemes. The ABI makes its comments in written evidence to the committee.

McDonald's Restaurants, owners of the famous hamburger chain, is to create 5,000 new jobs in the UK by opening more than 100 new outlets. The company said the pounds 116m investment would lead to full and part-time jobs distributed evenly across the various regions of the country.

Vodafone's subscriber base grew by more than 20 per cent last year with the addition of more than 468,000 net new subscribers. In the last quarter, more than 332,000 subscribers were connected in the UK, producing over 146,000 net new subscribers.

Goldsmiths Group, the jewellers' chain, said sales in the four weeks to 28 December rose 12.4 per cent on the year, an early indication UK retailers did well in the peak shopping season. Goldsmiths expects results to 1 February "in line with expectations".

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