News In Brief

The first effect in oil markets from President Clinton's decision to tap the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve was an 80-cent drop in the price of benchmark Brent crude, to $30.41 a barrel in London. And some analysts predicted futures prices would fall to $25 a barrel by year's end. But at the World Bank meetings in Prague, Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia's central bank governor said it was "imperative" that major oil-consuming nations lower fuel taxes to avoid sharp swings in price and to ensure stable market conditions. The world's largest oil producer, he said, had "invested heavily at substantial cost" to be able to pump at levels necessary to meet world demand. But he noted that consumers are taxed as much as 300 percent on petroleum products. Over the weekend, however, leaders of the Group of Seven nations agreed not to lower fuel taxes.

In a $6.3 billion deal, the largest water utility in Britain said it has agreed to be acquired by a German conglomerate. The purchase of Thames Water, which serves 12 million customers in Greater London and another 12 million outside Britain, will elevate Essen-based RWE to third in the world in water distribution behind French rivals Vivendi and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux.

The US leveraged-buyout specialist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) will pay $1.2 billion for the noncore assets of British specialty chemical manufacturer Laporte PLC, the Financial Times reported. It said the deal involves Laporte divisions that make additives, lumber preservatives, paint and ink pigments, and process chemicals for electronics. Laporte is based in London.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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