News in brief

Nasa oil probe

US space agency Nasa is to use a probe developed for inspecting the legs of deep-sea oil platforms to examine structures orbiting in space. The probe uses a technique called alternating current field measurement (ACFM)) which can test materials through coating up to 6mm thick.

Avesta sheds more

Stainless steel producer Sheffield Avesta is to shed 260 jobs at its sites in Sheffield, Blackburn and South Wales. It blamed the Asian crisis and the strong pound for the move, which followed earlier announcements of 200 job losses at Sheffield.

Kvaerner CEO

Kvaerner has picked Kjell Almskog, executive vice-president of ABB, to replace Erik Tonseth as president and chief executive officer. Tonseth was forced to resign two weeks ago after the company’s share price hit a 12-year low.

Vickers jobs plea

Vickers, the defence and engineering group, has told the Government it could save 200 jobs at its Newcastle plant if it is awarded the £200m contract to build up to 100 support vehicles for battlefield tank groups. The other bidders are GKN with Germany’s MaK, and Polish firm Obrum with VSEL.

Power complaints

Customer complaints to London Electricity and Seeboard increased by more than 60% during 1997/8, according to figures from industry regulator Offer. However, total complaints fell to 6,320 from 6,813 the year before.

Rover talks

Talks between unions representing Rover workers and management continued this week in a bid to head off potential job losses at the Longbridge plant. Bernd Pischetsrieder, chairman of Rover owner BMW, said last week he was looking for 2,500 job cuts and flexible working to secure the plant’s future.