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The Business Matrix: Friday 13 January 2012

Guinness factory to brew Budweiser

Dublin's St James's Gate brewery, home of Guinness, is to start brewing lagers like Budweiser and Carlsberg. The drinks giant Diageo is to invest £128m in the brewery in a move that will see it extended. The move marks a turnaround in the fortunes of St James's Gate, which at the top of the Irish property boom looked set to be sold to redevelopers.

Samsung signals Olympus interest

South Korea's Samsung Electronics is open to an alliance with the Japanese camera maker Olympus, potentially joining other electronics firms in circling one of the biggest names in medical equipment. Sony and Panasonic have already shown an interest in Olympus, which needs capital after a £1.1bn accounting scandal.

Booker enjoys healthy sales rise

A strong performance in food wholesale operator Booker's fruit-and-veg department helped its sales to rise more than 6 per cent in the last four months of 2011. The group, famous for being the original sponsor of the Man Booker Prize for literary fiction, said it aspires to boost its growth with a new catering service called Chef Direct.

British Gas cuts electricity bills

British Gas has cut bills for more than five million customers, announcing an average 5 per cent drop in its standard electricity tariff, six months after it raised its rates by 16 per cent. While British Gas is not cutting gas prices, Southern Electric and Swalec owner SSE said it would cut gas rates by 4.5 per cent before April.

Ofcom plans for 4G licence auction

An auction of 4G licences will allow smartphone and tablet computer users to stream and download almost anywhere in the UK, the regulator Ofcom said yesterday. Under its proposals for conditions at the auction later this year, at least 98 per cent of the population would have access to mobile broadband.

Howden ditches legacy sites

Howden got rid of two of its "legacy sites" at the end of 2011 costing £4m, but saving on future leases which would have totalled more than £13m. The kitchen and joinery supplier has slimmed down its legacy properties from 89 to 20 since 2008, helping it to bring down annual rent from £33m to just £6m.

Drop in pay for Daily Mail editor

The Daily Mail's editor in chief saw his pay package fall more than £1m to £1.73m last year. Paul Dacre's basic pay rose by £57,000 to £1.69m. But he received no bonus, unlike a year earlier, when he was handed £1m to recognise his long service with Daily Mail & General Trust.

FirstGroup sales up and down

FirstGroup has warned it is seeing a growing North-South divide. The bus and train operator said UK bus ticket sales were up 1.8 per cent in the past three months, but in Scotland and the North the pace was nearly 3 per cent slower than in the South, Wales and the Midlands.

Union appeal over pension changes

Four trade unions and a pensioner group have lodged an appeal against a High Court decision allowing the Government to switch the uprating index for pensions and social security benefits from RPI inflation to the lower CPI rate.

House sales fail on mortgage woes

More than half a million house sales fell through in the final months of 2011, up by a third on the start of the year, according to In-Deed.net. The online conveyancing service said the main reason sales did not go ahead was trouble securing a mortgage.

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