The Business Matrix: Friday 17 February 2012


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The Independent Online

China set to rule the gold market

China is set to overtake India as the world's biggest gold market this year, as rising incomes in the country fuel demand for the precious metal and the weak rupee diminishes Indian spending power, the World Gold Council forecast yesterday. The amount of gold bought in China rose by a fifth in 2011 to 770 tons. India consumed 933 tons.

Ladbrokes beats profit forecasts

Ladbrokes was hit by string of favourites winning races and Premier League club results going to form at the end of last year but still beat City profit forecasts. Operating profits (excluding high rollers) fell only 4.3 per cent to £194m despite the fact it was not a World Cup year. The first five weeks of this year saw a near 15 per cent rise in revenues.

Graff prepares $1bn HK float

The London-based jewellery business Graff Diamonds is looking to sparkle in Hong Kong in April, with plans for a $1 billion (£636m) float. Graff yesterday filed the first documentation needed for its planned IPO in Hong Kong, following Prada and Samsonite on to the stock exchange. French brand L'Occitane debuted there in 2010.

Helen Weir joins John Lewis

The John Lewis Partnership has scored a coup by hiring the former finance director of Lloyds Banking Group into the same role at the owner of the eponymous department store and the grocer Waitrose. Helen Weir was most recently the chief executive of Lloyds' retail division and will replace Marisa Cassoni at John Lewis this summer.

Virgin complains over BA-BMI deal

Virgin Atlantic will today lodge an official complaint with the European Commission claiming prices will be hiked, routes axed and competition "eradicated" if British Airways' owner International Airlines Group is allowed its £172.5m takeover of BMI. IAG argued that the deal would safeguard jobs and regional services.

Reed Elsevier sees profits rise by 5%

The digital revolution continues at publisher and events organiser Reed Elsevier, where print is down to just 22 per cent of turnover. The owner of the LexisNexis legal database, Bankers' Almanac and the Mipim property trade show said underlying profits rose 5 per cent to £1.6bn last year.

SocGen warns of more pain in 2012

Société Générale, France's second-biggest bank, warned of more pain in 2012 after a grim quarter hit by another writedown on Greek debt and a loss at its investment bank, where bonuses are being halved. But SocGen also said it had met new capital requirements six months early.

African Barrick hit by gold slump

African Barrick Gold, the Tanzania-focused miner, reported a 33 per cent slump in quarterly profits of £33m, as costs rose and output fell. The company blamed extremes in the weather for production problems at its mines last year, amid protracted drought in east Africa.

Norcros predicts profits gloom

The Triton shower and Johnson tiles supplier Norcros warned full-year trading profits are likely to miss its expectations after challenging conditions in the UK and South Africa in December. UK revenues fell 3 per cent in the 18 weeks to 5 February.

Rent market gets off to flying start

Rents are back on the rise after the market sprung into life "unseasonably early" this year, according to lettings agents. The typical rent rose 0.1 per cent in January to £712 a month in England and Wales, according to LSL Property Services today.