Sunday Round-Up: The main stories from yesterdays City pages

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The Independent Online
Independent on Sunday

Non-executive directors of Queens Moat Houses believe they were misled by the former management over the state of the crashed hotel company's finances.

The accusation, by David Howell, a non-executive and former energy secretary, will fuel speculation that the Department of Trade and Industry will investigate.

John Bairstow, the former chairman, said the problems were being grossly exaggerated by the new management.

British Gas has spent more than pounds 6.5m on a public relations, advertising and political lobbying campaign in the last year to counter the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's recommendation that it be broken up.

The company used six firms of public relations consultants and political lobbyists during the campaign, which is understood to be the most expensive in British corporate history.

It also inflated its television, press and poster advertising spend, with particularly heavy outlays at key points during the MMC's investigation into its monopoly.

Disgruntled Ferranti shareholders have contacted John Katz and Associates, the research company that represented unhappy Greycoat shareholders, as part of their campaign against GEC's 1p-a-share rescue offer for the defence group.

John Katz, the consultancy firm's chief, said he received telephone calls from shareholders all over the UK and Europe on Friday, asking him to represent them. One 1.5 million shares.

Mr Katz has written to Ferranti's chairman, Eugene Anderson, telling him that many shareholders will opppose a token payment.

AT&T and Sprint, the US telecommuniations giants, may take a stake in Energis, the telecoms operator owned by the National Grid Company.

Share tips: Compass, Arteus, Scottish Metropolitan, Spring Ram.

Sunday Express

A big pension fund run by Wolverhampton borough council has invested in highly speculative companies on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, many of them now insolvent.

Highland Distilleries may produce gin and vodka brands.

Share Tip: Gartmore.

Sunday Telegraph

Stanhope Properties plans to raise more than pounds 160m from international investors as part of a complex refinancing. The proposal involves the merger of Stanhope with Broadgate Properties, which it owns in a 50-50 joint venture with Rosehaugh, which is in receivership.

The Bank of England inflation report published tomorrow will warn the Chancellor to be cautious about interest rate cuts in the Budget as underlying inflation is edging higher.

J Sainsbury, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, is understood to be contemplating aggressive price cutting as it announces interim results this week.

Non-executive directors at Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television are set to quiz the chairman, Clive Leach, to explain the extent of a shortfall in advertising revenues caused by overselling of the station's airtime.

Share Tips: Siebe, Roxboro, Electra Investment Trust, Darby.

The Observer

Asil Nadir, the fugitive former chairman of Polly Peck, has in effect seized control of the group's assets in Northern Cyprus, blocking an attempt by the administrators to sell the fruit, packaging and hotels interests.

The administrators have appealed against a local court decision banning them from the Polly Peck companies.

The pounds 500m flotation of House of Fraser, the department store group, has been scheduled for next May.

Insurers are rewriting professional indemnity policies for surveyors and architects to exclude cover for claims linked to pollution.

Share Tips: Boots, BAT, Cadbury Schweppes.

The Sunday Times

TSB is to split up Hill Samuel, its investment banking, insurance and fund management subsidiary. It will retain the banking and corporate finance arms while selling the fund management business. Commerzbank is the front runner to buy Hill Samuel Investment Management.

Shareholders and creditors of Queens Moat Houses are training their anger on David Howell, the former energy secretary, who has been a non-executive director of the stricken company for four years.

They are demanding to know what Mr Howell and the company's five other non-executives did to protect their interest. One banker said that Mr Howell and John Gale will have to join the four non-executives who quit when QMH's problems emerged. But Mr Howell said: 'I am definitely staying. Queens Moat is a company with a very good future.'

Jac Nasser, Ford's European chairman, says the Japanese car plants in Britain are bad for the country. 'I don't personally believe the Japanese automotive investment in the UK has been a net plus for this country,' he says in an interview to be published in the European Motor Business quarterly of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

'If you look at the transplant versus the fully integrated European manufacturers, there are data to suggest that what we are really doing in the UK is relacing highly integrated production with low local- content production.'

Share Tips: GKN, Geevor.

The Mail on Sunday

British Gas is prepared to give up its monopoly to allow open competition in the supply of gas to domestic consumers to start by 1998.

A former director of Hammerson, the property company, is suing the group for more than pounds 1bn for breach of contract. Jon Scott, who lost his job running Hammerson's property managment operations in August, had a five-year rolling contract at a basic salary of pounds 135,000.

Share Tips: Kenwood, Sharpe & Fisher, Roxboro.

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