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The Business Matrix: Friday 16 March 2012

Buyers escape to the country

The Home Counties could be about see a rise in demand and prices for family homes as Londoners are tempted out of the capital, according to Savills. London prices have boomed in the past two years in contrast to a virtually stagnant country market, but more buyers are now being tempted outside the capital, the estate agents says.

GSK sells OTC brands to Omega

GlaxoSmithKline is to sell its consumer division to Belgium's Omega Pharma for £391m. The deal covers over-the-counter brands such as the allergy spray Beconase and Nytol sleeping pills. Britain's biggest drug maker sold a portfolio of drugs to the Belgian firm last year – including the painkiller Solpadeine, which made £185m in sales last year.

UBS pays new boss £4.4m

UBS, the Swiss bank which took an alleged £1.5bn rogue-trading hit in London, paid its new chief executive SFr6.35m (£4.37m) last year. Sergio Ermotti, who joined UBS in April, took over as chief executive in September when Oswald Grübel resigned over the alleged rogue trader scandal.

Profits fail to take off at Air Partner

The aviation services group Air Partner has reported a 19 per cent drop in profits to £2.3m in the six months to 31 January. It said an overcapacity in the commercial jet broking sector resulted in lower trading levels and it is cautious about the remainder of the year.

BAE wins £170m vest contract

BAE Systems has won a four-year contract worth up to £170m to make armoured vests for the US Defense Logistics Agency. The manufacturer is a leading provider of body armour, tactical vests, combat helmets and load carrying systems for US soldiers.

Market watchdogs to be merged

The Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission are to be merged into a new Competition and Markets Authority, the Government announced yesterday. The new competition authority is expected to be up and running in two years' time and will be accompanied by changes to competition legislation.

Oil found off the Irish coast

A commercially viable source of oil has been found off the coast of Ireland for the first time, raising hopes it could finally become an oil producer, netting the government much-needed tax revenue. Providence Resources said yesterday it had discovered a commercially viable oil well at the Barryroe licensing block about 50km off the coast of Cork.

Foreign lending 'slowing recovery'

Britain's recovery has been weak because of the legacy of overseas investments made by our largest banks, according Ben Broadbent, a senior Bank of England policymaker. He blamed the UK's disappointing growth not on excessive borrowing by the public, as sometimes claimed, but foolish foreign lending in the boom.

Premier Farnell remains hopeful

Electronics component distributor Premier Farnell said profits fell 14.3 per cent to £20.3m in the final quarter of its financial year to 29 January, on sales down 1.9 per cent. But it expects growth to return this year, helped as it comes up against easier comparative figures from its second-half.

Domino Printing shareholders rebel

Domino Printing Sciences said more than a fifth of its shareholders voted against a remuneration report at its annual general meeting yesterday, hours after the barcode-printer maker said it was unlikely to see any sales growth this year.

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