The Business Matrix: Friday 16 December 2011


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Arup revenues drop 9% in UK

Arup suffered a 9 per cent decline in British revenues last year despite working on projects including the High Speed 2 railway link to Birmingham and the Shard tower at London Bridge. The fall was offset by higher income from Australia and Asia, but full-year profits at the engineering firm dropped to £14m from £60m.

Old Mutual £2bn Nordic arm sale

Old Mutual is to offload its Nordic business Skandia Insurance to namesake Swedish insurer Skandia Liv for £2.1bn. The deal will spark fee bonanza for the banking advisers Evercore Partners, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, which might typically get 2 per cent of its value.

Pursuit plummets as losses double

Technology business Pursuit Dynamics was plunged into crisis yesterday when chief executive Roel Pieper quit, annual losses almost doubled to £15.3m and the shares crashed more than 50 per cent. Pursuit was a favourite for punters, who backed the Cambridge company's claims for of its fluid-control technology.

Watchdog backs off TV ads probe

Media regulator Ofcom has decided against recommending a Competition Commission investigation into how TV ads are bought and sold. "We have decided that the current rules remain fit for purpose," said Ofcom, which added that a full-blown probe "would impose significant costs on the TV advertising sector and public sector".

Begbies rues low interest rates

Begbies Traynor, the insolvency specialist, reckons that it would have had twice as much business if interest rates were not so low. Begbies, which has issued two profit warnings this year, said half-year revenues slipped a little to £29.4m but profits rose £300,000 to £3.4m. The interim dividend is 0.6p, half last year's.

Trouble overseas hits Wood Group

John Wood has warned that a unit it bought a year ago for close to $1bn (£646bn) was not performing as well as hoped. The firm said its oil production services unit Wood Group PSN was hit by losses in Columbia and delays on an Oman development due to struggles recruiting staff during the Arab Spring.

Public downbeat on inflation drop

The British public believes inflation will come down over the next year, but not as quickly as the Bank of England hopes. It says the public thinks inflation – currently 4.8 per cent – will average 4.1 per cent next year, whereas the Bank expects it to be in the "low threes".

Fall in exports hits manufacturers

Britain's manufacturing base is contracting at the fastest pace for two years. A survey by employers' body the CBI, published yesterday, showed that November saw the largest drop in factory order books since October 2010. The decline was led by falling export orders.

Ex-boss of Olympus chases comeback

Michael Woodford, the former chief executive of camera-maker Olympus, is opposed to business partnerships to shore up the hole in its balance sheet caused by huge losses it hid for years. Mr Woodford is in Japan seeking support for his reinstatement.

H&M sales dip but global growth up

H&M posted a 1 per cent fall in underlying sales last month, though this was an improvement on trading in the previous two months. Total sales at the chain, which has 2,472 stores globally, were up 9 per cent, its best performance since May.