Friday evening's business news

CBI slams CGT changes / Hindujas look for UK targets / Network Rail's on time

The head of the country’s biggest business group has piled fresh pressure on the Government not to go ahead with controversial changes to the tax regime, warning that the row has damaged its relationship with industry.

Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said his organisation will lobby ``as hard as it knows how“ to make ministers reverse planned changes to the capital gains system.

The announcement by Chancellor Alistair Darling in his Pre-Budget Report had caused more controversy among CBI members than any other issue for years, Mr Lambert said in an interview ahead of next week’s CBI annual conference in London.

The billionaire Hinduja brothers today signalled their intention to target business opportunities in the UK.

The Indian-born brothers, Srichand and Gopichand, have hired former investment banker Stefan Kosciuszko to look at possible acquisitions in the UK and in Europe.

Mr Kosciuszko, formerly a banker for Schroders and chief executive of UK-Asian business forum Asia House, has been made chief of staff of the Hinduja Group, and chief executive of its project development arm, Amas-IPS.

The firm in charge of Britain’s railway tracks and signals today said it had achieved its best performance on train punctuality for a decade.

Network Rail said 91% of trains ran on time over the six months to September 30, in a period of ``continued progress“ for the operator.

The not-for-dividend firm, which succeeded Railtrack in 2002, posted pre-tax profits of £780m, 4% ahead of last year when it made a profit for the first time.

The pound at 5pm was 2.0579 dollars compared to 2.0604 dollars at the previous close.

The euro at 5pm was 0.7209 pounds compared to 0.7207 pounds at the previous close.

The FTSE-100 index at the close was up 106.8 at 6262.1.

For more on these and other stories, buy The Journal tomorrow morning.

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