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Societe Generale plans to appeal against the European Commission's approval of the latest state aid package for Credit Lyonnais. A spokesman for Societe Generale, France's third-largest bank, said the bank had until mid-March to bring the matter before the European Court of Justice. The motion would be the second in a year filed by Societe Generale to block government aid to Credit Lyonnais, a state-controlled lender that has repeatedly been bailed out in recent years. Societe Generale is taking aim at EU approval of France's move last September to hand Fr3.9bn (pounds 421m) to Credit Lyonnais as an "emergency measure" to keep the bank afloat ahead of its restructuring and sale.

Cable & Wireless said its Mercury Communications subsidiary would cut the cost of calls tomorrow to more than 25 international destinations for the majority of its consumer and small business customers. Residential SmartCall customers will pay up to 18 per cent less for international calls while small businesses on the GlobalLink package will pay up to 28 per cent less. GlobalLink customers who call the US and Germany will have prices per minute cut by 20 and 17 per cent respectively.

Consumer prices in the OECD, excluding Turkey, rose 0.2 per cent in December after a 0.1 per cent rise in November. Prices were up 3.3 per cent year-on-year in December, unchanged from November. Including Turkey, prices rose 0.3 per cent month-on-month and 4.7 per cent year-on-year. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are excluded from the OECD figures. Underlying inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, fell to 2 per cent in 1996 from 2.7 per cent in 1995. Turkey and eight other OECD members do not provide figures for underlying inflation.

British Aerospace has reduced its holding in Orange from 21.91 to 21.11 per cent by selling 9.5 million shares to the mobile phone company's main shareholder, Hutchinson Whampoa, which now holds a 49.02 per cent stake. Orange shares eased 3p to 215p.

German consumer prices rose a final 0.5 per cent in January from December and were up 1.8 per cent from a year earlier, the Federal Statistics Office said. In western Germany, final CPI figures rose 0.5 per cent month-on- month and 1.9 per cent year-on-year and eastern German CPI rose 0.7 and 1.7 per cent respectively.

French industrial production grew in most sectors in January compared with December, according to a survey by the Bank of France. "The outlook for the coming months is distinctly brighter," the central bank said, adding that "activity should increase in all sectors".

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