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vital statistics

lCanadian billionaire Galen Weston has bought British retail empire Selfridges for £600 million, at £3.87 per share. The deal is unlikely to impact significantly on the 62-yearold's fortune, which, at £4.9 billion, makes him the 43rd richest person in the world.

lHousebuilding in the UK has slumped to its lowest level in 85 years, according to new figures.

The London-based Centre for Economic and Business Research said only 150,000 new homes were built in 2002.

lThe Congestion Charge has cut congestion in central London by 16 per cent, new statistics released by Ken Livingstone's Transport for London have shown.Average speeds have increased by 10 per cent in the zone and 15 per cent on its fringes.

lThe National Gallery has confirmed the huge success of its Titian exhibition by revealing that 200,000 visitors have so far seen it. In response, last Friday and Saturday it extended the exhibition's opening hours until 10pm.

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