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The Independent Online

Shares of Billiton rose more than 21 per centas the metals company and its partners, Kaiser Aluminum of the US and Sural of Venezuela, said they would not bid in tomorrow's auction of Venez-uela's four state aluminium companies.

The partners - which sank the Venezuelan government's most recentattempt to sell the companies in July, when they pulled out at the last minute - said they were withdrawing because of turbulence in world financial markets. The minimum price for the stake in the four companies has been set at $207m, and the winning bidder is to assume $1.25bn of debt, about half of which is owed to the government.


Shares of Barclays fell more than 8 per cent last week, after it said on Tuesday that it expects to take a pounds 250m charge to cover losses from lending money in Russia and trading Russian securities. Barclays said it expects Russian exposure to cut second-half profit by pounds 150m.

Barclays said its exposure on 31 August amounted to pounds 340m. It is the first British bank to announce a charge because of its exposure to Russia.

Chief executive Martin Taylor said Barclays values its Russian debt at little more than 10 per cent of its original dollar value. Robert Diamond, head of Barclays Capital, said it is reassessing its position in emerging markets.