The late ticker

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The Independent Online
Brakes on

The leading European supplier of catalytic converters for cars, Degussa, has warned that severe shortages of palladium and platinum could halt car production within weeks.

Ford and GM declined to comment on their palladium and platinum supplies, while Chrysler said it had adequate supplies of palladium. Stockpiles of palladium are critically low because Russia has exported none this year. Metals traders in London met on Friday to discuss the prospect of defaults on traded contracts.

No conversion

THE Italian Treasury said it will not convert the savings shares of Stet and Telecom Italia into ordinary shares when it merges the two state- controlled companies ahead of selling the combined group to private investors. The sale later this year could raise 20 trillion lire (pounds 7bn).

Excel buys Telco

Excel Communications, the US long-distance telephone company, is to acquire Telco Communications, a phone network company, for $1.2bn, creating the fifth-largest US long-distance company.