In Brief

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The Forum of Private Business said yesterday the majority of its members backed proposals to link business rate relief to employment levels rather than individual property values. In a postal ballot, 84 per cent of members of the small business lobby group said it would be fairer to use National Insurance liability as the basis for relief because it would protect those small businesses that suffered most from the Uniform Business Rate.

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve a technology standard for a new generation of high-definition digital television, it was announced in Washington yesterday. Digital TV, which is also being introduced in Britain, offers improved pictures and CD-quality sound. The vote is expected to usher in a new generation of televisions and set- top boxes aimed at giving viewers access to hundreds of channels as well as the Internet.

Walt Disney's Toy Story boosted video sales in Britain to a record high this year, figures revealed yesterday. An estimated pounds 850m was spent buying videos in 1996, a rise of about 8 per cent on the previous year. Toy Story sold more than 460,000 copies in November, followed by the film of the Irish dance show, Lord of the Dance, with more than 285,000. Babe sold 190,000, Trainspotting 170,000 and the cartoon version of 101 Dalmatians 160,000.

Elf Atochem, a unit of French energy company Elf Aquitaine, said on Thursday it had agreed to buy the European adhesives and sealants activities of Laporte, which had turnover last year of pounds 100m. The operations include Evode and Sovereign in Britain, Evode Industries in Ireland, Simson in the Netherlands and Hey'di in Germany. Financial details were not disclosed.

Turkey has appointed a consortium headed by Goldman Sachs to advise it on the delayed privatisation of Turk Telekom. The government hoped 10-15 per cent of Telekom would be ready for sale once Goldman Sachs had completed its advisory services and the sale strategy had been worked out. The sale is expected to raise $3.5bn.

The French government yesterday enacted a ban on asbestos in new buildings from 1 January, becoming one of the last industrial nations to do so. France has, until now, imported 35,000 tonnes of asbestos a year.

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