The Business Matrix: Friday 11 February 2011

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The Independent Online

Illingworth quits Smith & Nephew

David Illingworth is stepping downas chief executive of the hip replacement maker Smith & Nephew in April, the firm said as it reported better-than-expected profits for the last quarter. He will be replaced by Oliver Bohuon.

Neil Gillis to exit Blacks Leisure

The chief executive of Blacks Leisure is stepping down after talks to sell the outdoor retailer ended. Neil Gillis, who took over at the owner of the Blacks and Millets chains, in 2007, is set to leave the chain in six months. MORE

Youngest ever Fed governor to leave

Kevin Warsh, the youngest person to serve as a governor of the Federal Reserve, is to leave the US central bank next month. The former Wall Street banker, now 40, had warned that the bank’s quantitative easing could lead to inflation.

Woodford to be Olympus president

The Japanese camera company Olympus has named Michael Woodford, who oversaw a restructuring of the company’s European operations, as its president from 1 April. Mr Woodford will take over from Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who becomes chairman. MORE

Spirits up at Diageo but Guinness flat

Strong sales of spirits in North America offset a fall in European revenues at the Guinness to Johnnie Walker group Diageo, which reported a 16 per cent rise in interim profits to £1.6bn yesterday. The company blamed a 6 per cent fall in Guinness sales on the impact of economic troubles in Ireland and pub closures in the UK.

Arena Leisure wins Olympic contracts

Racecourse operator Arena Leisure has won a contract worth up to £1m in profits to provide catering at two venues for the London Olympic Games in 2012. The venues are Eton Dorney, where the sprint canoeing and rowing events will take place, and Greenwich Park, home to the equestrian and modern pentathlon events.

Jaeger has designs on Russia

The upmarket fashion retailer Jaeger has announced plans to open its first Russian stores through a strategic partnership with JamilCo, one of the country's leading distributors of brands. It will open two stores in Moscow this spring and also plans to expand to St Petersburg in the autumn. The company, which has 46 stores across the UK, expanded into Italy last September.

Feelunique seeks strategic investor

Feelunique, the online beauty product retailer, is seeking a strategic investor to drive forward its growth. The internet specialist is in advanced talks with corporate finance advisers at Grant Thornton, the accountancy firm, to explore strategic options. The company, which declined to comment, sells about 400 brands including Clarins, Elemis and Elizabeth Arden.

Hong Kong bourse is ‘open to offers’

The Hong Kong stock exchange said it would consider international alliances yesterday after rivals Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext, and the London and Toronto exchanges, announced tie-up plans. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx), the world’s biggest exchange operator by market value, said it is open to international alliances and partnerships, although it had not identified any opportunities.

Hargreaves attacks levy

Hargreaves Lansdown said half year profits growth was held back by an industry-wide compensation fund levy that forces firms to pay for the “incompetence of others”. The group said its 41 per cent rise in profits to £56m would have been higher, but for the £3m bill for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy. It called for a review of the scheme, which compensates savers if a firm goes bust.

Rio Tinto profits jump by 200%

Rio Tinto’s profits jumped nearly 200 per cent to $14bn (£8.7bn) last year amid strong demand in Asia for coal and iron ore. The Anglo- Australian miner also announced a $5bn share buyback as a way of returning capital to shareholders, as it unveiled its 2010 results. The company also promised small and medium-sized acquisitions.

Credit Suisse cuts profitability target

Credit Suisse cut its profitability target and dividend, blaming tighter capital regulations, after it missed fourth-quarter profit forecasts on disappointing fixed-income trading yesterday. The Swiss bank won market share from UBS when its rival was bailed out in 2008, but it is now struggling to maintain its advantage.

‘Oil prices to weigh on recovery’: IEA

Sharply rising oil prices could prove a drag on global economic recovery this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned yesterday. “The combination of higher prices, emerging inflationary pressures and instability in the Middle East is not a healthy one,” the IEA’s monthly oil report, published yesterday, said.

Brussels threatens new bonus curbs

The European Union’s financial services chief yesterday warned of a fresh crackdown on bonuses. Michel Barnier urged bank bosses to be careful when deciding to lavish big payouts on their “stars”, or else the EU might beef up what bankers claim are already some of the toughest rules in the world.