The Business Matrix: Friday 10 May 2013


Barratt boosted by Help to Buy

George Osborne’s Help To Buy scheme is jump-starting the property market, according to housebuilder Barratt, which is taking on 600 graduates and apprentices over the next three years to deal with demand. Across the UK, Barratt said net reservations per week rose 18 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier.

National Express hit by rebellion

Under-fire transport company National Express became the target of a shareholder rebellion over bosses’ pay yesterday.

The group has been facing criticism over its treatment of US staff wanting union recognition, and 28 per cent of shareholders opposed its remuneration report, with nearly 5 per cent abstaining.

Buy-to-letters get £4.2bn loans

Buy-to-let landlords were granted £4.2bn in new mortgage lending in the first quarter, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday. This was 13.5 per cent more than in the first quarter of 2012. Buy-to-let lending accounted for 13.4 per cent of all outstanding mortgages at the end of the quarter, according to the data, a record.

Lloyds plans to cut 850 staff

Taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group is to cut 850 staff across its business banking, consumer and asset finance divisions as part of cost-saving plans to axe a total of 15,000 jobs. The bank is also closing its Southend office. Dominic Hook from the Unite union said: “Lloyds’ staff are in constant fear that they will be next for the chop.”

Experian has 20% revenue jump

Canny consumers are increasingly turning to Experian’s online service to tweak their credit ratings before they apply for a mortgage or a car loan. Revenues from the company’s £14.99-a-month service rose more than 20 per cent as it brought in extra services and held on to customers for longer.

Rottweiler hedge fund bites back

The hedge fund run by “Rottweiler” Martin Hughes, Toscafund Asset Management, enjoyed a change in its fortunes last year as profits rose 68 per cent. The company, founded by the former banking analyst in 2000, posted profits of £7.9m before paying out bonuses and profit share, compared with £4.7m in 2011.

Sainsbury’s staff cash in on profits

Sainsbury’s has paid its staff a record bonus after the grocer celebrated growing annual profits and hit its highest market share for a decade. The supermarket’s 134,000 employees will share a bonus pot of £90m – up £30m from last year. Its market share reached 16.8 per cent.

Funds climb 7%  at Old Mutual

Old Mutual, the South African insurer with a London market listing, said yesterday that funds under management rose 7 per cent to £288bn in the first quarter, higher than analysts expected. That was due to buoyant markets and good fund performance.

Broker reports slip in revenues

Terry Smith took time out from arranging his 60th birthday bash next week to update shareholders at his broking firm Tullett Prebon’s annual meeting yesterday. He told them that since the start of the year revenues have fallen 4 per cent to £293m.

Ofgem appoints interim CEO

Energy regulator Ofgem has appointed an interim chief executive. Andrew Wright, who heads Ofgem’s markets division, will temporarily take over from Alistair Buchanan in June when he steps down after 10 years at the helm.