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The Business Matrix: Friday 11 October 2013

Grangemouth set for staff walkout

The oil refinery group Ineos has refused to enter arbitration over a dispute with workers at its Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth, increasing the chances of a full-scale strike. Ineos and the Unite union have been engaged in a war of words about the future of the plant, with bosses wanting to cut jobs and change pension plans.

Dreamliners face more turbulence

Two of Japan Airlines' Dreamliners had to turn back with technical problems less than 24 hours after an electric fault on one rendered six of the seven toilets on board unusable, and the anti-icing system failed on another. The Boeing 787's latest faults follow a string of other technical failures, from onboard fires to battery problems.

China now biggest oil importer

China has outstripped the US to become the world's biggest oil importer in September, according to US officials. Chinese oil consumption exceeded production by 6.3 million barrels per day over the month to become the world's biggest net importer. A boom in car ownership has spurred demand for imported oil and gas.

Sweet news for Real Good Food

The Real Good Food Company, which owns the sugar brand Whitworths, has signed deals with Asda and Booker chain of cash-and-carry stores which will double Whitworth's sales to more than £100m a year. It launched its baking range of sugars just over a year ago and has since become the country's fastest-growing sugar brand.

Investors boost Ashmore's funds

Investors piled into Ashmore's funds over the summer after regaining their appetite for the emerging markets. The money manager increased the value of funds under its control by $600m to $78.5bn. The flows were strongest into its debt products and offset a sharp market sell-off in May and June.

GKN poaches new finance director

The FTSE 100-listed engineer GKN has poached its new finance director from publisher and conferences group Informa. GKN's finance director Bill Seeger is stepping down in February after more than 20 years and will be replaced by Informa's current finance director Adam Walker.

Country Life not so bountiful

The Country Life publisher IPC Media said its pre-tax profits fell by 75 per cent to £11.4m last year. Parent group Time Warner's plan to spin off its magazines has been delayed and the search for a new chief executive is continuing after the previous boss left in May.

Dixons merges Italian business

The British electronics retailer Dixons has agreed to merge its loss-making Italian business UniEuro with a firm controlled by the private equity investor Rhone Capital. The retailer has agreed to give it €25m in cash and also invest €10m in the form of a loan note.

Melrose in deal with KKR

Melrose, the industrial turnaround specialist, has sold two of its businesses to the US private equity firm KKR for $1bn. The group has agreed to sell lifting and rigging specialist Crosby Group and Acco Material Handling Solutions.

Bumpy flight for Queen's jets firm

The supplier of the Queen's chartered jets saw its pre-tax profits fall by 5 per cent to £3.9m in the year to July as revenues fell 3 per cent to £220.6m. Gatwick-based Air Partner blamed the fall on slumping freight sales and restructuring.

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