In Brief

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The Independent Online
Just a dozen companies still being traded on the Unlisted Securities Market (USM) had failed to find an alternative home when the market closed for business for the last time yesterday. At its peak in 1989 450 companies were traded. Of the last survivors Aberdeen Steak Houses is expected to trade on Ofex, the informal trading market sponsored by Stock Exchange market-makers JP Jenkins. The way is also still open for the remainder to seek a full listing or a quotation on AIM, the Stock Exchange said yesterday. But it emerged yesterday that Greenwich Communications, a loss-making business which supplies satellite television in Portugal and has property assets in the UK, had applied for a full listing and has been turned down.

Investors handed a stake in Sooty

Investors in Guinness Flight Venture Capital Trust will own a stake in Sooty, the glove puppet. The fund has invested pounds 750,000 into the holding company which owns the two Sooty businesses and all associated intellectual property rights. The investment means GFVCT owns a 33 per cent stake. The fund's strategy is to expand Sooty's potential in film and merchandising. The first episode of a new cartoon series will be screened on ITV next week.

Toulmin resigns from United News & Media

Michael Toulmin has resigned as a director of United News & Media. The move follows the appointment to the board earlier in the year of Stephen Grabiner who now has executive responsibility for all the group's newspapers. Mr Toulmin has represented the regional newspapers and UK advertising publications on the board since 1988. He will remain chairman of United Provincial Newspapers and Yorkshire Post newspapers.

Bids to manage Telstra privatisation

The Australian government has invited stockbroking firms to bid for the lucrative job of managing the A$10bn (pounds 4.7bn) one-third privatisation of the main communications carrier, Telstra. Submissions to handle what will be Australia's largest privatisation are due by 20 January.

Ashquay criticises UK Estates' purchase

Ashquay, the property group which is involved in a pounds 21m hostile bid for UK Estates, has increased the pressure on its target by criticising UK Estates decision to spend pounds 500,000 buying its own shares for its employee share trust. The groups have been involved in bitter exchanges since Ashquay launched its offer lasts month.

Sir Christopher steps down from Costain

Sir Christopher Benson stood down as chairman of the troubled Costain construction group yesterday. He is being replaced by Dr Azman Firdaus Shafii. Sir Christopher's departure coincides with the recently approved sale of the group's US coal interests and its stake in the Spitalfields development site. Chief executive Alan Lovell will step down once a successor has been appointed.