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The Independent Online
British Aerospace and Lockheed Martin confirmed yesterday they were teaming up to bid for the US Joint Strike Fighter warplane contract, the world's largest military order. BAe had rejected joining the rival bid by Boeing for the fighter, which is due to enter service in 2008. The UK group said it would work in partnership with Lockheed on a $718.8m contract to produce two concept demonstration aircraft.

United Utilities yesterday announced a venture to expand into the national gas and electricity markets when domestic competition starts next year. The new company, called ENERGi, includes Vertex Data Science and BCN Data System. United, which includes the Norweb regional power business, said it was in the final stages of securing partnerships with UK generators.

The National Consumer Council has attacked electricity takeovers, arguing they have not led to price cuts for millions of domestic customers. In a report today the council criticises Offer, the electricity watchdog, and calls for charges to redress the balance between shareholders and consumers.

Sutcliffe Speakman, the carbon and solvents manufacturer, has finally cleared the decks of "excess" board members following its merger with Banner, the solvents distributor, more than 18 months ago. David Martin, who joined Sutcliffe as chief executive just prior to the merger and became deputy chief executive, resigned yesterday. He was on a two-year rolling contract and earned pounds 129,000 last year including benefits. Investment column, page 24

Jurek Piasecki, chief executive of Goldsmiths, the jewellery group, netted pounds 1.4m yesterday when he sold 400,000 shares at 345p. Mr Piasecki intends to use the proceeds to repay personal borrowings.

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