Sunday Round-up: The main stories from yesterday's City pages

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The Independent Online
The Independent on Sunday

Prudential-Bache, the Wall Street securities house, is preparing to sue Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation over losses it sustained on a convertible bond redeemed by the media group earlier this year. The losses came about through confusion over the demerger of Royal Doulton from Pearson, in which News Corp held a stake when it issued the bonds in 1989.

Michael Lawrence, chief executive of the Stock Exchange, is under fire from critics just six months into the job for an alleged failure to bring strong leadership to the demoralised institution.

A syndicate of 20 banks is planning to sell most of its stake in WPP, the advertising group, in a pounds 200m international placing in the autumn. The banks are due to convert WPP preference shares into ordinary shares in early September.

The Sunday Times

Ford, the world's second biggest car maker, could take control of Mazda, the struggling Japanese manufacturer. Sumitomo, Mazda's principal banker, wants Ford to take 51 per cent of the company.

Airline unions are seeking a 30 per cent stake in USAir, the indebted carrier in which British Airways has invested dollars 400m. Union representatives are also seeking seats on the USAir board. They are due to meet Sir Colin Marshall, BA's chairman, this week.

The Observer

Marks & Spencer is considering donating funds to the Labour Party. Sir Richard Greenbury, M&S chairman, has invited the new Labour leader, Tony Blair, to lunch to put his case for a donation. M&S gave pounds 40,000 to the Conservatives last year.

Historic Royal Palaces, the agency that runs five palaces in and around London, is expected to announce its most successful year ever. Turnover rose 14 per cent to pounds 22m even though the number of visitors increased only 2 per cent to just over 3 million.

The cable television industry is to launch a marketing drive in the autumn in response to last week's report from the Trade and Industry select committee expressing fears that Britain would lag behind other countries in building a telecommunications 'superhighway'.

Doubts grew about whether Norman Hay, the engineering group, had completed a scheduled pounds 6m land sale that would have allowed it to pay off its borrowings.

The Sunday Telegraph

A US investment bank is marketing a dollars 100m global share offer to fund the launch of a professional soccer league in America. Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette will issue details of the fund raising for Major League Soccer, a company run by Alan Rothneberg, World Cup USA chairman, this autumn. The new league would start in April 1995.

Hanson could sell or float Ertl, one of the world's biggest toy manufacturers, as part of its programme of disposals. Ertl makes Thomas the Tank Engine models and novelties such as Blurp Balls.

More building society executives favour remaining mutual, according to a survey due to be published by UBS and Mortgage Finance Gazette. The report indicates that both conversion to public companies and building society takeovers by banks will be rare.

Competition between banks for customers means the high street clearers have shelved plans to reintroduce charges on current accounts that stay in credit. NatWest, Lloyds and TSB had publicly backed an end to free banking.

The Mail on Sunday

Kevin and Ian Maxwell are offering pounds 900,000 over five years to pensioners of the collapsed Maxwell Group through their lawyers. Maxwell pension fund trustees will meet during the next few weeks to consider the offer.

Big life insurance companies have agreed to take a tough line on compensation to investors who were wrongly sold personal pensions. The compensation bill is expected to run into hundreds of millions of pounds and will fall mainly on small firms of financial advisers.

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