Business and City Summary

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The Independent Online
Pounds 1.7bn of new money

for unit trusts

Unit trusts attracted pounds 1.7bn of new money last month, the second-best figure recorded. Funds under management reached a record high of pounds 70.7bn and net sales, after repurchases, were pounds 719m, the highest since February 1991.

Sales for the first quarter of the year surged to pounds 4.2bn, giving a net inflow of pounds 1.8bn, the industry's best first-quarter sales, according to the Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds, formerly the Unit Trust Association.

GPA confirms funding

GPA, the aircraft leasing group, confirmed the Independent report last month that it is to go ahead with a bank rescheduling deal before it completes an issue of new share capital. Most of the banks have agreed to the dollars 5.55bn debt rescheduling on the basis of firm commitments to take up at least half of the new equity before the share sale is finalised.

US jobless claims rise

Jobless claims in the US rose 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000 for the week ended 17 April from a revised 333,000 the previous week.

DAF declared bankrupt

A Dutch court declared DAF, the stock-exchange listed company, bankrupt and granted protection to two subsidiaries, DAF Finance and DAF Special Products.

pounds 21m BAA project

BAA, the airport operator, will redevelop Eastleigh airport in Southampton at a cost of pounds 21m to cope with an expected doubling of passengers by the turn of the century.

Sun Alliance boss

Sir Christopher Benson, chairman of MEPC and of Boots, will succeed Henry Lambert as chairman of Sun Alliance, when he retires next month after 21 years on the board. Sir Christopher is already Sun Alliance's deputy chairman.

AXA profits fall 25%

AXA, the leading French insurer which owns Equity & Law in the UK, reported a 25.6 per cent fall in net profits to Fr2.05bn ( pounds 244m). AXA was hit by a 46 per cent fall in realised capital gain to Fr2.24bn ( pounds 267m).

Marine turnaround

Profits of Marine Midland, the HSBC Holdings subsidiary in the US, were dollars 34m in the first quarter compared with dollars 2.6m a year ago.

Cadbury warning

Companies risk government regulation if they fail to deal with concerns about corporate accountability, Sir Adrian Cadbury, chairman of the committee on the financial aspects of corporate governance, said in the annual London lecture of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

McAlpine appointment

Oliver Whitehead will replace Graeme Odgers as chief executive of Alfred McAlpine. Mr Whitehead has been chief executive of Babcock International since 1989.

World Markets

New York: Profit-taking in heavy program trading reversed sharp earlier gains on the reduction in German interest rates. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 10.27 at at 3,429.17.

Tokyo: The rise of the yen against the dollar triggered concern about the economy, pushing the Nikkei 225 index down 181.7 points to 19,591.31.

Hong Kong: Futures-led selling overcame optimism about the Sino-British talks in Peking, leaving the Hang Seng index down 9.15 points at 6,759.24.

Sydney: Strong gains by Westpac sparked a wave of buying that pushed the All Ordinaries index up by 11.5 points to 1,705.4.

Paris: The Bundesbank's interest rate cut triggered confidence that pushed the CAC-40 index 12.57 points higher to close at 1,944.46.

Frankfurt: The DAX index lost 0.13 points to 1,666.74 in thin trading.

Milan: Easing of political concerns allowed the MIB index to rise 1.92 per cent to 1,167.

Amsterdam: The cut in German interest rates pushed shares higher, leaving the EOE index up by 1.6 points at 324.99.

London: Report, page 26.