News in brief.

– Mid-tier firm Baker Tilly was expected to reach an agreement on Tuesday with Jonathan Aitken’s creditors which would formally release the disgraced former cabinet minister from bankruptcy. The impending final settlement would split the proceeds of Aitken’s estate between creditors and the Aitken Children’s trust. The individual voluntary agreement would save the DTI #300,000 in bankruptcy costs. Aitken (left) would also keep a pension of about #50,000 per year. The Guardian newspaper, one of the principal creditors, said that it would probably settle for less than half of the #1.5m owed by Aitken following the now notorious libel trial.

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– Anglo-Dutch engineering firm Kvaerner was thrown a lifeline by its largest shareholder Yukos, after the company said last Friday it was on the brink of insolvency. The Russian oil company put up enough capital to keep the engineering firm afloat for one more week, while it completes negotiations to restructure its debt and finds new shareholders for an equity rights issue. Kvaerner also announced the appointment of Finn Berg-Jacobsen as acting chief financial officer.

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– Euronext, the merged Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels securities market, has beaten the London Stock Exchange in its bid for LIFFE, buying the futures and derivatives exchange for #555m. The new exchange could become the biggest exchange operator in Europe, beating out the Deutsche Boerse and the LSE. The Paris-based market’s victory is a serious setback for the LSE, which is now vulnerable to a takeover, according to analysts.

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– Former Marconi finance director John Mayo is expected to receive #500,000 in pension benefits following his sudden departure from the troubled telecommunications company last July. It is believed Marconi will pay the benefits in addition to the #600,000 it has already paid the former director. The company stressed it could do nothing about the pension, but described suggestions Mayo’s benefit could amount to #950,000 as ‘wildly inaccurate’.

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– Independent Insurance liquidator PricewaterhouseCoopers, has found itself in conflict with insurance brokers after demanding the return of old commissions. The news comes as indications grow that legal action by Independent’s creditors could begin early next year and could still involve claims against the auditors KPMG. PwC is reported as pursuing all commissions relating to premiums returned as a result of policies being cancelled after Independent became insolvent.

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– The economy has grown 0.6% in the third quarter compared to the last quarter according to a preliminary estimate by the Office of National Statistics. The estimate, measured through gross domestic product at constant market prices, shows a year-on-year increase of 2.2% in GDP. The figures have surprised accountants, but they warned that last quarter’s figures were not an accurate picture of the current economy, as the attacks on September 11 had changed the economic climate.

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– A proposal by the European Commission is likely to cost quoted companies across the EU about #1.3bn per year according to the Quoted Companies’ Alliance. The directive proposed by the commission is designed to harmonise prospectuses that companies issue when they are to be admitted into trading. But the QCA said companies would have to issue more detailed accounts and be faced with other professional costs. It estimated costs for the UK companies alone could reach #500m.

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– The Confederation of British Industry has urged chancellor Gordon Brown to produce a ‘cautious and vigilant Budget plan’ next month in response to the current uncertain economic climate. It said the government should stick to its current plans for public spending to strengthen the economy, but warned there was no room for new initiatives or tax increases.

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– The US Securities and Exchange Commission has appointed its former deputy director Stephen M Cutler as enforcement director. Cutler was named acting enforcement director following the departure of Richard Walker. He will oversee the SEC’s enforcement programme and in 11 regional and district offices throughout the US.

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