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The six main government and opposition political parties in the republic have signed a Dail motion endorsing the peace blueprint – Tony Blair, the UK pre- mier, yesterday sought to win round sceptics in anti- nationalist unionist parties by offering reassurance on the release of paramilitary prisoners and on reform of the Royal Ulster Constabu- lary, the Northern Ireland police farce.

He said there was no ques- tion of prisoners being released early unless they and their organisations had renounced violence. No mean barrack ex him- self. But in an inter- view yesterday with the Financial Times, he seemed almost gloomy – as if he senses the political tide is flowing against Mm No one is writing him off yet But his brand of politics – implacably opposed to any role for the Republic of Ireland in Northern Ireland\’s affairs – may soon look out of sorts should the people give the agreement a resounding Yes in the refer- endum.

His political fortunes have directly mirrored the mis- fortunes of Northern Ireland. He says that even if the Yes vote prevails, he will contest the assembly elec- tions. Will he make this new assembly work? Not at all. Investors and execu- tives have finally been gal- vanised into action.

Consolidation has been given additional impetus because much of the cabling in the franchise areas is nearing completion, and the companies have realised that size really does matter in the. It has; been shaking up the industry in other ways, too. Its innovative marketing, which involves a low-cost telephone and tele- vision package, appears to have made the breakthrough that the industry required in terms of penetration and is a strategy now being widely copied.

The acquisition of several cable franchises was fol- lowed by the purchase of NTL. It gave the com- pany, which is listed on the UR Nasdaq market, a national telecoms network and a backbone for its bur- geoning cable business.

Last year the company mooted the idea of pulling all the big cable concerns outside CWC into one com- pany. None took the bait, but NTL has pushed on regardless with Its strategy of bigger means better. The company, which hid for the licences later won by British Digital Broadcasting, has access to digital terrestrial television through its stake in S4C Digital Networks. Telewest, meanwhile, appeared hampered by the different interests of its four dominant north American shareholders. That now appears to be resolved as one.

Stephen Davidson, chief im Jvr ifl Jan Jti An. Telew- est will become the UK\’s Number One cable company. However, investors\’ appe- tite for cable has waned as analysts have cut their once- optbnistic forecasts for the industry in the face of its relatively poor performance.

BT CiB already employs people in Dundee han- dling share dealing and information for Barclays stockbrokers and calls-to the national rail inquiry service. These staff will move into the new premises after it opens in July. It was attracted to Dundee by locate in Scotland, the inward Investment agency.

Dundee is in a development area, which entitles incom- ing companies to assistance grants. Dundee, Scotland\’s fourth biggest city with a popula- tion of , has attracted very little inward Invest- ment in recent years. One of the largest boosts to employ- ment was the opening in by General Accident of an office processing Insur- ance wbrfc.

The plant later dosed. In the past 12 months com- panies have a nn ounced the creation of 94X30 fobs in call centres in Scotland. Scottish Enterprise, the development agency, says there are call centres in Scotland employing 16, people.

Because it will be funded by the industry it regulates, all the costs wDl ultimately be borne by the consumer – the individual investor, through his insur- ance policy, pension fund or money invested on the stock exchange.

Yet this Is exactly what Labour propose to do. It is another pre- election promise betrayed. Gross premium income dropped hum E7. Marine, aviation and excess of loss rein- surance suffered the sharpest declines In revenue.

Excluding exchange rate fluctuations, the drop In premium income was 4. B4bn from the rest of Europe. Michael Jack, agriculture spokesman, wants a House of Commons committee to look at whether the headquarters at Working- ton, north-west England, rep- resents value for money. Mr Jack says he is not accus- ing Jack Cunningham, chief agriculture minister, of choosing Workington because it is near the district he repre- sents in parliament.

The comments – from Professor Stephen Ltttiechfld, the industry regulator – follow a recom- mendation by a committee of toe House of Commons that owners of redundant coal-fired generating capacity be required to offer it for sale in an effort to prevent further mine closures.

An independent assessment ordered by the regula- tor into the closure by National Power and PowerGen of coal- fired units at three stations In England said that that they could have been of Interest to rival generators. It said: \”Given toe difficulties of buying or leasing individual units in a station, the closure of some but not ail units at a station could reflect a reluctance by incumbent generators to relinquish claims to existing power station sites in order to retain their market position.

Lord Neill is Investigating whether big corporate donations are Wended to Influence policy and whether there should be greater disclo- sure of such donations. Sir Stanley dismissed suggestions that big donations should be publicly declared. The card was Introduced in October and the relaunch follows a series of profit warnings from the group. It has been perceived as losing out to Tesco, the first food retailer to introduce a loyalty card and Asda. Mike Dennis, food retailing analyst at SG Secu- rities, said Safeway had lower average spend per visit than competitors.

Robert Wright, London Storm in the Thames Ferffie centre of high-tech growth oom reports on the conflicting 5 of protecting the countryside acting international businesses [ is gathering in frames Valley, of. London – rest equivalent alley in Calif- mediate cause is ie underlying , is competitive – Q the UK grow ogy industries, je in environ- ie. Registered unemployment averages LA per «nt to the county of Berkshire, at toe centre of the valley.

Eco- nomic expansion brinp new residents, who need houses. The other two, Sun Micro- systems and- Apple, are an the fringes, and toe valley houses others in electronics, telecommunications, and biotechnology. They are attracted by proximity of London\’s , Heathrow airport.

Microsoft, Oracle and Computer Associates are among software giants devel- oping new headquarters. Gross domestic product per head and average earn- ings are the highest outside London. Spec- ulative. There is a price.

Popula- tion to Berkshire has dou- bled to 78SJJ00 over. Between and Traffic congestion is also heavy at rush hour and. Between areas of outstand- ing natural beauty in the west and London\’s green fringe in the east, there are few suitable housing sites.

Berkshire councillors will fight, the share of housing proposed for the county, acc- using Serplan of undermin- ing its strategic aim: to curb employment growth west of the capital while encourag- ing growth east of London. Imperi- alism. Or so many in the west believe. The view has been cogently expressed by Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The chair man is right. The combination of the stagnation of Japan with the crisis that has engulfed Thailand. Indon- esia and South Korea has largely destroyed the glamour of Asian managed capitalism. The high unemployment of con- tinental Europe has done almost as much damage to its traditional social democracy.

What is left is Anglo-Saxon cap- italism. It is becoming a \”global standard\”. Notwithstanding the doubts expressed In the margins of the spring meetings of the Interna- tional Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington this week, this is what the principal powers there represented – above all the US – were trying to ensure. Robert Rubin. US secretary of the treasury, was one potent voice, with his loud call for greater transparency, stronger domestic financial systems and mare effective mechanisms to ensure that creditors and inves- tors bear the consequences of their actions.

Free competition At the national level, the emerging global standard con- sists of liberal trade and open financial markets. It demands a high quality of regulation and independent legal processes, to protect private property and handle bankruptcy. U calls for non-corrupt government.

Within this framework, prosper- ity is generated by free competi- tion among profit-seeking com- panies. This global standard is under- pinned by an array of interna- tional institutions, this being one of the principal changes since the beginning of the cen- tury.

These institu- tions constrain the independent action of member states, in the interests of their own citizens and those of other countries. When countries fall into diffi- culties. New norms This shift is enjoined not just by institutions, but by markets. Most companies wish to raise money on international capital markets. If the east Asian crisis proves anything, it is that no country can safely rely on short-term borrowing from bonks.

They must access inter- national bond markets as well. Taken together, these facts force countries and companies to move, willy niffy, closer to the new norms. First, the constraints it imposes upon the ability of indi- vidual countries to determine their own policies are bitterly resented. This is true not just in Malaysia or Korea, but in the US, too. President Bill Clinton\’s inability to secure the trade-ne- gotiating authority he asked for is just one illustration of the results.

Second, the shareholder- dominated capitalism of the Anglo-Saxon world is disliked In countries where companies are viewed not as bundles of contracts, but as long-term com- munities. More broadly, pro- found distaste is felt for the fluid social relations that make sense in a country of immi- grants. Third, short-term relation- ships are widely seen as a direct cause of the financial instability that has brought east Asia low.

The cosy finance that came to grief in Japan seems unworka- ble. Finally, the contemporary tri- umph of the US may rest, in part, on a financial bubble. The liberal order of a century ago was destroyed by national rivalry and financial collapse. The same dangers could lie in wait. The new global standard has much to commend it. Its enduring triumph cannot be assumed, all the same.

I nternet commerce always seemed a bit like Brazil or Russia: you constantly expected it to take off and change the world but that never seemed to happen. Now the take- off is starting. Consider: Almost half of all the trades executed by America\’s largest discount brokerage house, Charles Schwab, were conducted online during the first three months of the year.

That com- pared with one-third in the same period of Nearly 5bn people traded stocks via the internet last year and the number is expected to reach 10mm by Today, their share is down to 52 per cent as airlines deal directly with travel- lers via the internet or telephone. In January\’, Egghead. Amazon has yet to turn a profit. The largest bookshops may carry , titles.

Online you have a choice of 2. These are straws in what could become a hurricane, though not yet In the. That is just a fraction 0. With data traffic doubling every days, according to a new report from the US Commerce Department, cyber high-streets are booming.

Estimates by two consultancies. Forrester Research and Robertson Stephens, suggest retail sales on the web could dou- ble nest year and rise by a far- ther 50 per cent in or Busmess-to-business use of the net is growing even faster.

It says the volume of business-to-business trade doubled every six months in and is now doubling each three to four months. Three things have happened to turn disappointment into boom, according to Herb Stephens of Intershop, a software company that builds the programs needed to create an e-commerce web site.

First, security concerns have The internet is fast becoming the prize location in retail sales, with, traffic figures booming. Louise Kehoe reports g panama [market amazon. Encouraged by word-of-mouth stories about Internet purchases, consumers have come to accept the maxim that giving your credit card to a waiter is more risky than using it online.

Second, it is easier to enter cyberspace. Over the past year, many have upgraded to Cas- ter modems. Third and most important, e-commerce appears to have achieved a critical mass. Now, there are more than m. As e-commerce grows, it is developing its own rules. Each has its local customer base to draw upon. Only a few sellers will succeed in each product category. The toy retailer pays a 25 per cent slice of revenues for customer referrals from these sites.

Alex Simons, Cazpaint\’s product man- ager. The Carpoint web J site reflects two other e -commerce trends. Online research is the first step towards becoming an online shopper, industry analysts say. Last June, Carpoint began offering cars for sale. The num- ber of shoppers has mare than doubled to above lm a month and the proportion who make a purchase has grown to almost 3 per cent.

If it lives up to its potential, a gent technology could make the internet hugely competitive. But internet retaile r s can use it to gather information about their custom- ers.. This is a mounting concern among consumers, according to many in the field. There needs to be an industry- wide agreement on how this information is pro- tected-.

The second characteristic of e-commerce exemplified by the Carpoint site concerns the rule of middlemen. Carpoint has agree- ments with dealers throughout the US who complete sales gener- ated on the web site. April recognises. It is. The intention to secure open and proper procedures and fair contracts was often ignored. Reading the guidelines I was struck by the fact that they had probably originated in drafts by native English speakers. The word \”should\” was often used as iin indication of acceptable prac- tice.

To a native English speaker this word has an obligatory tone, whereas a non-native English speaker often looked on its tone as advisory and open to be ignored. Coupled with a decision to make them mandatory, this trans- formed the nature and impact of the document. There are subtle undertones to the way common words are understood even by competent speakers of another language and which depend on the relationship of the words to the culture from which they have emerged.

Peter McGregor. In our modem world they serve no earthly useful purpose except to make money for their owners, which they seem to do quite adequately running steeple- chases.

Critics of foxhunting like to point to the dogs, but I think it Is only fair that these willing and Irresponsible instruments of death should get a taste of death themselves.

Now let us all have a minute of sOence: I for the fox. Sir, My father worked for Theo- dor Herzl in Vienna. I came to the UK as a grateful refugee. Although an atheist, naturally 1 have concern for Israels safety and admire what has been achieved. Jews everywhere hove crucially supported Israel and in turn walked taller because of IsraeL I wonder whether this is still generally true. Many Jews as well os non-Jews are now out of sympathy with Israeli prime min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu\’s blinkered intransigence as spelled out m his own book F to firing Terrorism and demon- strated day by day.

Mr Sajid Javid i Letters. April rightly asks for conciliation. U is neces- sary for the good name and ulti- mately for the security of Israel. Peter Sieber. California – not so long ago viewed as one of the most expensive areas in the world for domestic real estate. As we are told that this amount would today barely purchase a decent family apart- ment in an average part of Ken- sington. London, are we to assume that the green, green grass of home is to remain but a distant dream for our expatriate entertainer?

Charles Cook. I have contacted the Securities and Futures Authority, which sees nothing untoward in this failure to maintain access to the ; market. Are we all equally j un worried? With owr 4. As the example shows. It Uoes so in other areas too.

Yet as the Carpoint example shows, reports of the de ath of the middleman may be exaggerated. Collaborative relationships between established retailers and internet merchants are emerging in several product areas. The reason is that shipping products direct from manufactur- ers to the consumer is not eco- nomically viable, argues Mr Poli- shook of etoys.

T he internet cannot do everything. Some goods sell better online than others. Intangible prod- ucts such as financial services are especially easy to deliver, simply by downloading them. Last year, some m US house- holds were banking online. By , as many as 16m are expec- ted to be accessing accounts and paying biffs via the internet What is less often realised is that , to a significant degree; the success of online sales depends on demographics as much as technology.

Web users are. They are the main consumers of the things that, Jupiter Couahu- ni cations predicts, will show the largest growth over the next few years: electronics products, travel, music, hooks, software and computers and pornography.

Growth may bring Its own problems. In the book industry, for example, titles may be. The international reach of the internet makes this a big dile mma. Similarly, there are OS government export controls bh some software products. To ensure it complies with commer- cial and legal restraints,; one seller of software, Software.

Without these, online shopping will never be quite the same. Lfiders afwuW t» typed «J rw hand «ntten. Kl \” tlir V \’m\’IS. Less often still does the accused walk free before his trial. Both these phenomena occurred this week in. He is the focal point for pre- cisely the kind of social and economic reform that the government of President Mohammed TThatamf has been trying, unsuccessfully, to implement for the past nine months. At first sight Mr Karbas- chi has\’ none of the qualities one might expect to find in a celebrity.

In his eight years as mayor, he has managed to upset everyone from the city\’s powerful landowners, to rich merchants, to con- tractors and shqpowners. But many in. Tehran have forgiven him. They credit him with having made the city – its choking pollution notwithstanding – a place that actually functions. But the conservative establishment of mullahs and merchants, which still controls the national levers of power, has not been so forgiving. They \’ also accuse him of providing food and transport to encourage people to go out and vote for Mr Khatami His supporters praise his bold stance and contrast his actions as mayor with his reputation from the s and s when he was a theology student.

That Mr Karbaschi should today have become a cause celibre says more about Iran\’s opaque and arcane power structure than it does about the man himself. For a start, be was appointed mayor of Tehran by former president Hashemi Rafsan- jani, a wily power broker. But Mr Karbaschi.

Once at Isfahan, the new mayor set about reconstruct- ing the city and saving its monuments. He also reor- ganised the city\’s industries established by the Shah. By ragin\’ ng them function more effectively, they were able to contribute to Iran\’s war that change was in the air, was shrewd enough to put all his eggs in Mr Khatami\’s basket. He was vindicated when Mr Khatami ran away with 70 per cent of the national vote.

Now Mr Karbaschi can legitimately claim he is a reformer alongside the presi- dent. Popular support for Mr Karbaschi is one thing. Polit- ical control is quite another. Ultimate power remains in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the spiritual leader, and the narrow circle of conservative and ageing mullahs and their secular merchant supporters.

It was they who wrote the con- stitution legitimising their own control over the national levers of power. Though he dare not play it the religious hierarchy dares not ignore its existence.

Two-thirds of Iran\’s popu- lation is under The bulk, notably in large urban cen- tres. These young have never known any regime other than the mullahs, and are not cowed by it. They showed their con- tempt for established social conventions lasr UPcrir. Equally telling, more titan 5, women – all suppunc-r- of Mr Khatami – ignored explicit polire orders to stay al home by pouring inti, t by- street and filling one end nf Tehran\’s national soccer sta- dium.

The pulice stcuiil by powerless. After that, all that was needed, say businessmen, for the young to demonstrate again, was \”a catalyst ami a cause\”. Mr Karbaschi pro vided both. Mr KarbaM-hi\’s trial still due nn 5 May. The hard- line judiciary may have lost face hut it still has a raw?

The deterrent to pursumg Mr Karbaschi is the fear »»f provoking an uncontrollable public street reaction. A lot can happen in the next three weeks. And many pc»vle will be looking fur a f. US securities firms have Just reported first-quarter earnings, in many cases not only the highest In their his- tory, but also substantially above analysts\’ expectations. Investment bankers, who have recently banked big bonuses for their fee- generating success in , are well cm their way to even.

Business in bond and equity underwriting and in mergers and acquisitions has been booming. But can the seemingly inexorable rise in profits per- sist? In fact; the rampant bnB market may be hiding under- lying problems in the indus- try. Although there is plenty of business around, the secu- rities industry has never been more competitive. It predicts increased spending on year problems, the euro conversion and aggres- sive hiring.

Yet those firms that achieve or maintain a leader- ship position will have some protection. Lead manag- ers in underwriting syndi- cates, for example, often cap- ture about 70 per cent of client fees. Furthermore, \”benefits of scale are apparent in several activities such as sales and trading, retail brokerage and asset management, where marginal retains.

Although in theory a large proportion of remuneration is paid in the form of perfor- mance bonuses, this is not always evident in practice. Recent entrants to the sector offer guaranteed bonuses over two or three years, and even those firms that reject this practice may be unwill- ing to slash bonuses in bad years in case top talent is hired away.

High costs and the rush far the top are among the footers driving the rapid con- solidation of the financial services industry. The merger of Salomon and Smith. Consolidation also brings job losses. But as consolida- tions continue, the number of people vying for a smaller number of seats will. Ms Zimmerman explains: They might say.

Mor- gan, which a year or so ago seemed destined to retain their independence for ever, are now frequently the sub- ject of merger rumours. After this month\’s Sl70bn merger of Citicorp and Trav- elers the parent of Salomon Smith Barney – which will itself cause some job losses in overlapping areas such as capital markets – no combi- nation seems unthinkable. For the moment, Wall Street is raakrngr hay while the sun shines t and every- body wins.

In the longer term, there will inevitably be some losers, too. B elfast\’s Europe will today play host to a meeting that could seal the fate of the Northern Ireland peace pro- cess. A special session of the ruling council of the Ulster Unionist party will hear David Trimble, the party leader, defend his decision to support last week\’s political settlement Should Mr Trimble win backing for the deal, there is every expectation the cam- paign for a Yes vote in next month\’s referendum will be won.

Should he lose, the peace agreement would be dead. Mr Trimble would be ousted as leader, his political career at an end, and the province in turmoil. Might it run deep enough to oust Mr Trimble, or to persuade vot- ers to reject the deal? Certainly, Mr Trimble has had a difficult week. On Wednesday the Orange Order, which has around 60, members and stages marches in commemoration of William of Orange\’s defeat of the Catholic King James n at the Battle of Boyne in The Order accounts for around 85 of the plus del- egates at the council, but its influence would be wider as many ordinary unionists would also be Orangemen.

However, the news might not be as bad for the peace agreement as it might seem. The Orange Order, then, may not give a clear indica- tion of the mood of the UUP council meeting as a whole. That will reflect a wider unionist opinion – and the leader\’s ability to shape the outcome will be limited. The UUP has a weak central organisation with constitu- ency parties enjoying consid- erable autonomy. In the rural west of the province, where protestants are tbe minority, there is a deep sus- picion about a deal that could see Sinn Fein, the IRA\’s political wing, at the heart of the new Northern Ireland government.

Hence, for Mr Trimble, the biggest threat could come from within bis own party ranks. Mr Paisley can still count on a huge personal following. He can also count on unionists\’ visceral dislike of Sinn Fein. TO throw your lot in with politicians who espouse a united Ireland is viewed as the ultimate treachery. All the same, many ordi- nary unionists would not see the evangelical Presbyterian leader as a credible voice to lead unionism as a whole. In some respects. The Usiltle. You might yet 73 per cent in the referendum and yet [Mr Paisley\’s] UUP could still do well In the elections I think the government mnv have been rash to go for early elections\”.

If the DUP Kignilientitly increases its vole at the expense of the main unionist party, it is just possible Mr Paisley could block the establishment of the pro- posed all-Ireland bodies which, for the nationalist? But he faces a formidable task. Unionist history is littered with the stories of unionist leaders who seek an accom- modation with nationalist-; and find they have not brought the rank and file with them.

However, the pohiici. Moreover, imlik- in when workers brought the province to a standstill in protest at the Sunningdale agreement. Mr Paisley cannot rely on the support of the urban work- ing class. They have set up their own parties, both of which support the deal This week, the graffiti un the Shankill Road pro- claimed \”Well Done Trim- ble\”. He will be hoping the sentiment rein a: ns unchanged after today\’s crit- ical meeting.

T he dulcet tones of Simon and Garfun- twi seem somewhat incongruous in the middle of a Chinese building site. Pndong is quiet – and virtually empty. Pndong, which has about as much office space as d o wn to wn Hong Kong and half that of central London, jg a monument to ambition. In the s. Office space in Shanghto has grown by a foctor of 22 from sq m in sq m this year. But the cho- rus from the Jackhammers and piledrivers that hutit the tower blocks has faded to the occasional dank Of half-hearted construction- As offices have gone up.

The US investment hank prediets a further foil of up to SO per cent. So far, building what rrhiwa cans the hardware of a modern financial centra – office blocks and telephone Hues – has proved easy. But to fill the bandings, China seeds to lay the foundations for a competitive service sector: the rule of law, self-regulating financial markets and a culture of independent-minded profes- gionaltem.

LeOng, the pro pe r ty amsuttancy. Chinese state companies and ministries. Most market analysts say prices trill not stop falling until next year at toe earli- est.

Once they Mt bottom, they are likely to stay there for several years. Group and Daewoo of Korea seek to scale down or strap projects. There are even. Even more worries centre on banks. Loans to compa- nies and institutions that fancied themselves as prop- erty developers threaten to make mattes worse. The symptoms look alarm- ingly similar to those that have led to popping sounds all over Asia, as one prop- erty bobble after another has burst So, Is Shanghai fostering a herd of white ele- phants on toe banks of tbe Huangpu river?

Or can the dty escape the fate of other Asian developments? Over the past year, toe municipal government has restricted the supply of land for tbe development i f \”Tua and luxury residencies. It has also sought to redirect developers to low-cost bous- ing, a potentially lucrative market Jiang Jianqing, president of the Shanghai branch of ICBC, the city\’s biggest bank, brashes off compari- sons with other Asian cities.

Mr Cheung at C. Leung agrees. He cites infrastructure projects, such as the new airport due to open to and a new underground rail line, which should entice busi- ness across the river from its traditional home an the west bank of toe Huangpu.

The government has used its muscle to encourage that migration. All foreign banks wanting to conduct local c u r re ncy business in China or insurance companies seeking to operate in the domestic market have to set up offices in Pudong- For foreign financial institu- tions, the centre of gravity In China has already become the new development zone.

Though even if all the for- eign groups in China moved to Pudong, they would only occupy a fraction of the vast office space. Shanghai\’s property devel- opers may also be less frag- ile than regional counter- parts. Most have robust balance sheets and can afford to switch their strategies from short-term sales to longer-term leasing.

That pushes rents down, but avoids a fire-sale and a resulting collapse in prop- erty prices. In Pudong. If they cannot lease the building, some state bodies may oven be prepared to relocate in Pndong themselves. On the demand side, prop- erty agents cite continued arrivals of foreign investors and the expansion or exist- ing companies. Only then will the buz? Starting below a troy ounce on the London bullion market, the price jumped quickly to Russia, the world\’s biggest producer of palladium, accounting for 60 per cent of supply, did not export any in the first six months of because or bureaucratic bold- ups.

Many analysts expect a re- run this year because of Rus- sia\’s present political upheavals. On Wednesday, palladium went to its highest price ever.

Although the price slipped back yesterday, to close in London at On the London Metal Exchange, there was a late surge in copper\’s price as rumours of an explosion in a US refinery swept through the market However. That compared with Ml UFfE Sarawak crop expect. In\’ June. BrazTs new crop mpeoeri In July ar tomee. Treasuries were mixed after the morning release of new figures on the US trade balance and industrial pro- duction.

Gbn deficit in January. The June future was again stuck in a narrow range of 20 basis points, and settled 0. Next week sees a raft of statistics on the economy, which should give the mar- ket new direction, UK GILTS were also quiet ahead of more figures next week.

CoMAn taagr! But traders said profit-tak- ing also aided the franc. The Swiss currency ended the week in Europe firmer against all the major curren- cies. Its strongest gain was against sterling, which weakened by 2. That weakened the dollar aga i nst the yen through fears of central bank inter- vention. Anther deregulate -her economy and stimulate domestic demand.

There is nothing behind it. But the rumours were Quashed after hanks deluged. The rumours looked to have knocked less than half a pfennig off the rate of ster- ling against the D-Mark. E 1. M15 1. Eh Bdgfeoffi m 1E24 4JW7.

TO v waatast to. O37 JIM 0 K Ckmp-. Ml MB i« 3ft 36 3ft 39 36 2. Ibl TO h. CM 0 Ftn U10 – IU6. BL1BS7 – B. For mm rntbamdonorusatance pl e ase p hene Low Rates. Quality Service. Schroder Send HST ; 3t». Korea LinadaMon Rmd. Notes: -i pareentqge pehc mduedun on MM charge. And he is taking hie team With him, leaving Old Mutual to pick up the pieces. But Cor the SJUftplus investors in the ftmd, which has topped the European sector Ibr the seven years since Shaker- chi took over, the question most be whether Old Mutual can put together a decent team.

DavM Pook at OM says the company is looking far a new team. Once again it was the threat of a rise in UK interest rates, possi- bly as early as next month, that hung over the market, although there was a minor element of relief for the big exporting stacks as sterling nudged down against the dollar and the D-Mark.

By then, however, the damage to stock market sentiment had already been done. The expiry of FTSE loo index options in mid- morning prompted a substantial flurry of activity during a minute period and brought renewed downside pressure on an already nervous market The FTSE index dropped decisively below 6,, sliding another Wan Street\’s 85point dip on the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday was seen by dealers in the City as manageable, but there was a feeling of uncertainty about the trend in New York at the outset of trading yesterday.

The Dow kicked off on a weak note, stabilised and then rallied before slipping again. Not long after London dosed, the Dow was dinging to a ramwll gain Earlier, another disappointing performance by Tokyo and Hong Kong, which fell L6 per cent and LI per cent respectively, added to the air of uncertainty affecting European stock markets. And they pointed to the rela- tively low turnover in the market throughout the shortened trading week.

At the 6pro cut-off point yester- day, turnover was m shares, the lowest daily total for almost a month. Others warned of the extremely nervous State of mar- kets on both sides of the Atlantic, noting the potential for rate rises in the UK, Germany and the US in the short to medium term. The expiry mid -morning led to some sharp movements hr the underlying cash market it contributed to overall options turnover of 51, con- tracts compared with 53, contracts on Thursday.

VeUdeanOI Food 13] 3M4M 45 Hetiera. The view that most of the big banks are overvalued was exacerbated in Standard\’s case by co mment s from the bank that it had no intention of joining the global rush for consolidation.

The stock was also affected by the growing ner- vousness about the Japanese economy and ended the day 64 lower at p. Other banks were also weak again. Analysts said that Burmah and Pexmzoil have been slug- ging it out for top industry slot in the US. Pennzofl and Quaker State have agreed to merge their motor lubricants and oil change centre operations into a new company with estimated annual revenues of about S3hn. One analyst said that in a low growth business, where margins are all-important, the merger puts Burmah firmly in second place and undermines its cost-cutting capability.

Dealers said a large line of stock had been overhanging the market. Rio grand Mining group Rio Tinto was active after positive ana- lyst comments in the wake of a copper price rally to four-and-a-half mouth highs. The broker was reacting to the current strength in copper prices, a favourable macroeconomic environment and a big draw- down in pulp and paper inventories, which they see as a leading indicator for Copper and a hmnfnhim.

The positive comments fol- lowed an earlier recommen- dation from Cazenove. In addition, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson had set a p price target on the stock. The latter has been hard hit this week because of what analysts saw as uninspiring research and development presentations in New York and London. The shares were compara- tively firm closing only 4 lower at p. Mercury Asset Management was said tu hold an 8 per cent stake in the company.

Arm Holdings, which designs and licenses micro- processors, also made a highly successful debut un the UK market yesterday. QU before dosing at 82np. In addition. The broker said the stuck hnd met its near-term perfor- mance target, with he recent share price rise reduc ing the discount to estimated asset valuation tn 3 per cent from 30 per cent in January. BT upgraded On the other hand. However, the stock is one of the most liquid in the Footsie and is seen as a quick way out of a falling market.

Lard Harris now holds a beneficial interest of OH MM! Iinaxr I 17K m imy nan T 4SMM SCAB -1 -I. Ml -5 k Yield 1. By early afternoon the Dow Jones Industrial Aver- age had gained 8. A mixed technology sector sent the Nasdaq composite down 1. Among computer shares. Analysts at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Morgan Grenfell cut their ratings an the company after the release of quarterly figures.

Investors also in on many internet shares.. But on the upside. Ameritrada rose more than i? Small-cap shares made slight advances, winding \’ the Russell index up, but by less than a point to LB9. Analysts said most Cana- dian bank stocks fell in part because expectations about a merger were already largely priced into the market.

The merger, will create the second largest corporate marriage in Canadian his- tory. The broader market was also weak at midsession with the composite index down to 7. The Xetra Dax index picked itself up from a low of 5, The shares rose DM1. Banks also had a mostly good day as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers circu- lated bullish reports on the sector.

Dresdner climbed DM3. PARIS turned higher after its streak of losing sessions, helped by a positive opening on Wall Street and a slight recovery in the dollar, against the franc. Computer consultancy Cap Gemini came second with a FFr38 or 5.

Financials, which put in a strong performance earlier in the week, ran into profit- taking. MTIiAN posted marginal gains as a rebound in bank- ing shares lifted sentiment, helping cut earlier losses. The Mibtel Index rose Strength in Flat also sup- ported the overall market Banks, which were depressed In early trading, closed higher on hopes of further restructuring in the sector following the merger ann o uncemen t between Cre- dito Italian 0 and Unicredito.

Banca di Roma rose L to L3. Banca Intesa, seen as a strong merger candidate, added LS29 to L The shares were suspended at one point for falling beyond their daily limit. ZURICH was weak as cau- tion over the outlook for interest rates was exacer- bated by news that Goldman Sachs had cut the weighting of Swiss shares in its Euro- pean portfolio.

The SMI index fell Pharmaceuticals stocks, which account for more than 40 per cent of the blue-chip index, were lower after Peter Sullivan, equity strategist, said that Goldman Sachs was shifting from defensive stocks, such as pharmaceuti- cals and foods, and the inter- est rate sensitive sectors. Roche certificates fell to a low of SFrl4.

Chemicals were mixed. Among financials. Baloise continued to outperform the market on the back of long- running merger rumours. The AEX index closed up 4. High-technology stocks were hit by profit-taking after their recent run. Akzo Nobel, the chemicals group, rallied Fl 17,10 to Fl Brewer Heineken rose Flu to F14S2 after it received approval to raise its stake in its Polish affiliate.

Grolsch was also higher, adding Fl to Fl The general index recouped earlier losses and closed up at Telefonica, the market benchmark fell Pta40 to PtaH. The Bovespa index slipped 87 to 12, The weakness was partly caused by uncertainty over the future weighting of mar- ket benchmark Telebrfis. The Index moved between 15, The broader-based Topix index, which covers all stocks, fell 49 to Last month the govern- ment announced it would spend Y It is due to announce more details next week.

However, the G7 meeting in Washington last week apparently did not produce the degree of pressure that had been expected for Japan to turn these pledges into dramatic policy changes. This prompted a wave of selling by foreign investors yesterday, traders said.

Total volume on the first section rose to m, up from Thursdays m. Los- ers outnumbered gainers by to , while issues remained nnchang ed. This left the Hang Seng index down Property counters, how- ever, suffered the largest set- backs as the weaker yen sparked fears of higher local interest rates.

The weighted index fell Taiwan Semiconductor fell TS6. The SET index rose , or 1. NTS Steel rose Bt9. BOMBAY was propelled higher by heavy buying by retail investors and good support from domestic finan- cial institutions. The BSE index closed JAKARTA was lower for the fifth consecutive day on continued selling pressure in some blue-chip telecommuni- cation issues, in spite of sta- ble Indonesian interest rates.

The composite index lost 2. The overall index, which began the month at 7, and reached three record highs during the week, fell back 69 to S. The golds sector, which by contrast had been an under- performer, picked up 1. But precious metals pro- ducer Gencor was hit by profit-taking ahead of the weekend, slumping 75 cents or 6 per cent to R Tha stn ot tatoiare data era rounded la tfa naBrttoouswd end rapnaemed wttta remrtterej, torn awfcbie. IB Mg Deb Ok In addition, Hambros owns a portfolio of direct stakes ranging from port – a Other stakes include 0.

The potential bidders for the Hambros group are not interested in Hambro Insur- ance Services, the loss -ad- jus ting and legal services company in which Hambros owns 52 per cent HIS said it had appointed DLJ Phoenix Securities to review its options. It might distribute the Hambros stake, seek an equity or joint venture partner, or conduct a share buy-back. All three provideprocessing and loss- adjusting services. His is node 1- less pressure to find a partner than It would have been three years ago.

The share price fell 2p yes- terday to 10Sp, well below the p on flotation In Hambros also owns a 44 per cent stake in Guinness Flight Hamhro. Guinness Flight\’s manage- ment is unenthuslastic about Investec, and has also appointed DLJ Phoenix to look for other buyers. If Investec were to bid for Hambros. The demerger will therefore take place through a reduction in capi- tal; shareholders! Shareholders stand to receive less than that, how- ever. Besides running costs and adviser\’s fees, princi- pally Schroders, it is likely to face tax liabilities on some disposals.

David Hoare. There have been particular problems with bigger stores in the US. Ashley announced earlier this year that it was to sell its Welsh factories, but Mr Hoare said the negative pub- licity surrounding the com- pany meant little progress bad been made in selling them.

Tbe North American stores were down 20 per cent like-for-like for the first 10 weeks of the current year. There is no dividend for the year. MUTs cash injection, tbe debt reduction, should have helped to improve forecasts, hut the a ppalling like-for-like figures suggest trading is even worse than expected. These are to be delivered between now and L The first of these, the Grand Princess, is expected to gitgr service in May.

Investors — primarily insti- tutions from the US, OH and Middle East – are expected to finalise their commit- ments within the next six weeks. Alchemy stressed that the funds did not have to be invested within 12 months if the right opportu- nities were not available.

He said he expected to invest between 30 and 45 per cent of the new money in Germany, where Alchemy will shortly open an office. The deal flow is remarkably strong. We are already get- ting two or three a week\”. The biggest problem in Ger- many would be finding man- agers with buy-out experi- ence, he said. EMI avoided appointing a group chief executive under Sir Cohn Southgate, its exee- utive chairman, by promo- ting Simon Duffy, finance director, to the new position of Joint deputy chairman with Sir Peter Walters.

EMI said he would remain an executive and be supported by Mr Duffy, who would keep his finance role. Mr Fifield. The two had reported to Mr Fifield, whose role will dis- appear. EMI said it no longer needed a separate music division to hold music pub- lishing and recorded music. This left the stock still far off its highs following its 47 per. The company said this week that the irregulari- ties stemmed from problems at the former CUC.

Shares vie with league positions as clubs anxiously await the final whistle Patrick Harverson looks at the ups and downs of the now corporate world of football and the very high financial stakes involved as the season nears its end Today\’s Premier League match between Barnsley and Tottenham Hotspur will not be for the faint-hearted. In football parlance the fixture is a six-pointer – a battle between two sides locked together at he bot- tom of the league table for whom the result is doubly important.

For the loser three precious points are relinquished to its rival and the threat of relegation looms larger. Bui the stakrs are just as high in financial terms, espe- cially for publicly-quoted Tottenham, whose deterior- ating share price this season has matched the team\’s poor perform; inres on the pitch.

For either club, relegation to the First Division – where income from television, sponsorship, ticket sales and merchandising is much lower than m ihe Premier- ship – would mean the loss of millions in revenue. However, it would be par- ticularly disastrous foe Tottenham.


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