The Business Matrix: Friday 17 May 2013


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Demand for gold hits three-year low

Demand for gold tumbled to a three-year low during the first quarter as hopes of a recovery in the global economy outweighed a surge in buying from China and India. Global demand fell to 963 metric tons in the quarter, according to the World Gold Council, down from 1,107.5 tons a year earlier. Prices had risen significantly over the past few years.

Pru investors attack pay report

Prudential was hit by a minor revolt at its annual meeting yesterday as investors criticised the company's decision to pay £30m to directors last year. Almost 12 per cent of the Pru's shareholders opposed the group's remuneration report – nearly as many as the number of shareholders who rebelled against pay at Aviva's AGM this month.

TalkTalk boosts internet TV sales

TalkTalk showed yesterday that Britons are embracing internet-connected TV in their droves. The telecoms provider revealed that it is signing up 12,000 customers a week, a rate that looks more than a match for rival BT. Chief executive Dido Harding said the company had sold 150,000 YouView set-top boxes in its first quarter.

'Lower prices' help drive Asda sales

Asda said it had "lowered prices" on everyday groceries in its stores and online to drive improved sales. The grocer increased underlying sales by 1.3 per cent over the 14 weeks to 12 April, compared with 0.1 per cent in the previous three months. Revenue from online grocery at the UK's second-biggest supermarket rose 16 per cent.

Dixons profits set to sail near £85m

Dixons chief executive Sebastian James says he has "wind in his sails" as the recovery at the electrical retailer continues and the City is beginning to believe the story. Yesterday the company that also owns PC World said profit for the year would be at the top end of City forecasts of between £75m and £85m.

CPP's cost-cutting to include top jobs

The chief executive and finance director of troubled credit card insurer CPP have decided that cost-cutting across the company will have to include their own jobs. Hundreds of CPP's 1,200-strong UK workforce are likely to lose their jobs after the company was hit by more than £50m of claims for mis-selling.

3i boss baffled by Bramson's shares

The chief executive of the private equity group 3i has admitted he has no idea why the activist investor Ed Bramson keeps buying his company's shares. Mr Bramson's Sherborne Investors has built a 4.9 per cent stake in 3i, but has so far remained silent about its intentions.

Eurostar's driving seat goes to female

Eurostar appointed its first female chairman yesterday. Clare Hollingsworth is expected to take over from Richard Brown in June. Ms Hollingsworth was chief executive of the private hospital group Spire Healthcare, and was managing director of Caledonian Airways.

Investors balk at Trinity Mirror deal

Trinity Mirror's decision to cut the basic salary of its new chief executive, Simon Fox, by a third and introduce a more stretching bonus scheme failed to satisfy some shareholders. Nearly 9 per cent voted against the remuneration report.

Aviva hails rise in new business

Aviva has taken tentative steps towards a recovery by posting a steady set of first-quarter numbers. The troubled insurer said new business sales had risen by 18 per cent to £191m thanks to increased demand for products in UK and Europe.