The Business Matrix: Friday 18 January 2013


North Sea drilling revival

Drilling for North Sea oil and gas took off last year, as a resurgence in the UK Continental Shelf pushed up the number of new exploration and appraisal wells by a third. A total of 65 wells were drilled in 2012, up from 49 the year before, as tax breaks in last year's budget fuelled a revival in the North Sea, according to Deloitte.

Fed-up investors 'taking risks'

Investors are taking more risks because they're fed up with buying government debt, according to Martin Gilbert, the boss of Aberdeen Asset Management. He said his customers poured money into Asian and emerging-market equities during the last three months of 2012 in a protest against poor returns from safer, fixed-income products.

UK car output revs to four-year high

UK car production hit a four-year high in 2012 as car exports high a new record, defying the deep slump in European vehicle sales, according to new research released yesterday. British factories built 1.46m cars last year, of which 1.21m were exported, according to the trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Pension plans under scrutiny

Plans to enrol nine million more workers into company pension schemes are to be investigated by regulators, it emerged yesterday. The Office of Fair Trading is looking at whether defined contribution pensions schemes deliver “the best value for money for savers”. About four million Britons are currently in the schemes.

Stobart feels chill and gives warning

Logistics group Stobart yesterday warned its operating performance will miss expectations this year, and blamed the “uncertain economic environment”.Stobart is to close its chilled operation but the relaunch of Southend Airport beat expectations for its first year, flying more than 600,000 passengers.

Basel III accord “won't work”

New global rules forcing banks to hold more capital and cash to shield taxpayers and make the financial system safer won't achieve their aim, a UK regulatory policymaker warned. Robert Jenkins, of the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee, said the Basel III accord does not go far enough.

Panmure's profitable 2012

A good flow of corporate deals helped keep stockbroker Panmure Gordon profitable in every month of 2012 despite the dearth of trading volumes on the stock market. Panmure said it is debt free and supported by its main Qatari shareholder. It won 26 new corporate clients in 2012.

Payday for the Dome's PY

The man who salvaged the reputation of the Millennium Dome sold a majority stake in one of the UK's biggest leisure companies to property giant Land Securities for £111.9m. French entrepreneur PY Gerbeau became boss of X-Leisure more than decade ago.

Lagarde fires ECB warning

The European Central Bank should keep monetary policy easing to help the eurozone, the head of the International Monetary Fund said. Christine Lagarde said: “Continued if not further monetary easing will be appropriate to sustain demand.”

Google picks new London HQ home

Google is set to confirm its UK HQ move to King's Cross in a matter of days. In a deal valued at more than £500m, Google will create a 700,000 sq foot office hub at King's Cross Central, directly to the north of King's Cross station.