The Business Matrix: Friday 12 August 2011

Banks told to disclose holdings

Britain’s banks will have to provide City regulators with more information about their exposure to sovereign debt amid concern at the Financial Services Authority about contagion from the continuing crisis in the eurozone. European banking shares have been hugely volatile in recent days amid worries about their liquidity. MORE

Bloomsbury gets Harry Potter lift

The release of the final film in the Harry Potter series has prompted a significant increase in the sales of the books on which they are based, Bloomsbury Publishing said. The company, which began publishing the books in 1996, does not own the film rights but has seen sales rise each time a new film has come out. MORE

BA to recruit 800 new pilots

British Airways launched its biggest pilot recruitment drive in more than a decade yesterday, unveiling plans to hire more than 800 new pilots by 2016. The airline said the new hires would come via three recruitment programmes including a joint initiative with the UK armed forces to give military pilots a chance to switch to commercial aviation.

Osborne rejects policy rethink call

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has rejected calls for a rethink of his economic policy. In a statement to MPs on the turmoil on the markets, Mr Osborne said Britain had become a safe haven for worried investors and insisted this showed his policies on deficit reduction were the right strategy. MORE

Whitbread agrees leaseback deal

Leisure group Whitbread has agreed the sale and leaseback of seven Premier Inns and adjacent restaurants with property specialist LaSalle Investment Management. LaSalle is to pay £53.8m for the properties and lease them back to Whitbread, which will continue to operate them, for 25 years.

BAA boosted by Heathrow record

Passenger traffic at airports owned by the operator BAA rose slightly last month compared with July 2010, helped by growth at Heathrow and its Scottish airports. In particular, Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, served 6.9 million passengers in July, up 2.5 per cent – the figures were a new record for the airport.

Melrose given Charter deadline

Melrose has until 6 September to either make a formal bid for Charter International or walk away from the engineering group for six months before making another approach, the Takeover Panel said yesterday. The “put up-or-shut up” deadline follows representations from Charter’s advisers.

Morgan Sindall clinches rail deal

Morgan Sindall has won a lucrative share of a Network Rail contract worth £750m to improve the nation’s rail infrastructure. A joint venture in which the company is participating will deliver all works on the Western route, an area between Paddington, the west of England and South Wales, in a deal worth £200m.

New boss for Halfords auto

The car and bike parts group Halfords has appointed Bill Duffy as chief executive of its Halfords Autocentres business. Mr Duffy, who is due to take up the position next month, has been chief operating officer at the business, which was previously Nationwide Autocentres, since February 2006.

JJB says OFT inquiry is over

The sportswear retailer JJB Sports said last night that the Office of Fair Trading, the competition watchdog, had decided to close an investigation into it. JJB said the decision to end the probe, which concerned alleged anti-competitive practices, was provisional and that it could not comment on the OFT’s thinking.