LONDON - National Westminster Bank PLC has reaffirmed its determination to continue in the securities business.

"We have made a firm commitment to stay in equities," Martin Owen, chief executive officer of Natwest Markets, said last week. "It is part of our core business."

Mr. Martin's remarks, quoted in the Financial Times and con- firmed by a spokeswoman for Natwest Markets, dispelled some doubts about the securities-related intentions of Britain's second-largest bank.

A retreat by Natwest would have run counter to the "universal banking" trend in Europe. Several European Community members, led by Germany, permit banking, insurance, brokerage, and real estate activities under a single corporate structure.

Natwest's chairman, Lord Alexander, had said in early 1991 that the securities business would be shut down in two years if it failed to make an acceptable return on capital.

The business has since been grouped with corporate banking in the new Natwest Markets entity. it is believed to have broken even last year after sustaining substantial losses in the past. Results are no longer reported separately.

"All of Natwest Markets' businesses are forecast to be in profit in 1993, even after full absorption of costs," Mr. Owen said. He added there was target of a 15% to 17.5% return on capital.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, the stock exchange declined to comment on a newspaper report that two brokerage houses based in Osaka were applying for the membership given up by County Natwest Securities Ltd., the brokerage arm of London-based National Westminster.

Giving Up Memberships

County Natwest decided earlier this month to give up its hard-won memberships on the, Tokyo and Osaka exchanges because of intense competition.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun said Nakai Securities Ltd. and Nagakazu Securities Ltd., both Osaka Stock Exchange members, had applied for the vacant seat on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The Tokyo exchange said that it would pay $3.6 million to buy back the seat, but that County Natwest may get more by selling it to another broker, as a new seat costs at about $9 million. Natwest paid about $8.5 million for the seat in 1988.

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