The Business Matrix: Friday 10 January 2014


Serco to run Boris bikes in London

Serco to run Boris bikes in LondonSerco, the outsourcer that has just repaid the Government £68.5m after admitting charging taxpayers to tag dead or non-existent criminals, has won a £38m extension to keep running London's Boris Bike scheme. The two-year deal means Serco will continue to run the service, which has 11,000 bikes, until July 2017.

EU exports help UK trade deficit

Rising European exports improved the UK's trade gap in November, but a significant improvement in the trade deficit still looks a long way off, experts warned yesterday. Figures for November showed the goods trade deficit with the rest of the world narrowing from £9.7bn to £9.4bn, helped by a 2.5 per cent rise in export volumes.

Danone to sue NZ supplier Fonterra

The French food giant Danone has set out plans to sue the New Zealand dairy group Fonterra over lost sales after its false alarm about finding botulism-causing bacteria. Danone, which uses Fonterra ingredients in some products, issued recalls of baby milk in nine countries including China.

SIG reverses falling sales

Specialist building products distributor SIG reversed falling sales to post a like-for-like increase of 2.5 per cent in the second half of last year. Full-year sales fell 0.5 per cent after a 3.5 per cent decline in the weather-affected first half, the Sheffield-based group said.

Warning on French debt levels

France's national debt has reached a danger zone at an estimated 93.4 per cent economic output last year, the head of its public audit office warned yesterday. Didier Migaud said it faced a costly increase in debt servicing costs when rates rise.

Central banks keep rates low

Central banks in London and Frankfurt both left interest rates at record lows yesterday. The Bank of England held borrowing costs at 0.5 per cent while the European Central Bank left its main rate unchanged at 0.25 per cent after inflation in the eurozone fell to 0.8 per cent in December.

Women to head engineering body

The Royal Academy of Engineering has named its first female president. Professor Dame Ann Dowling, head of the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University, takes over the post in September. The world authority on combustion and acoustics will hold the post for five years. She is also on the board of the oil giant BP.

Hays has best results for 6 years

Hays fed hopes of economic recovery yesterday as the recruitment giant hailed its best results in six years. It said quarterly profits in the UK jumped 10 per cent and the jobs market has "accelerated" in the regions and London and across every sector, particularly construction, property and healthcare.

McBride sees revenues fall

McBride, the provider of own-brand products from shampoo to dishwasher tablets for retailers, saw half-yearly revenues fall by 3 per cent as a result of a previously announced wind-down in some of its contract manufacturing business. It forecast interim profits of about £10m.

Rathbone head leaves on a high

The outgoing chief executive of fund manager Rathbone Brothers, Andy Pomfret, looks set to leave on a high as the company's assets under management rose 5.8 per cent to a record £22bn in the final quarter of last year.