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The Business Matrix: Friday 2 September 2011

Busier trains boost Go-Ahead

A surge in passenger numbers helped the bus and train operator Go-Ahead post better-than-expected annual profits. The group, which has a fleet of 3,800 buses and a stake in the Southern, Southeastern and London Midland rail franchises, said pre-tax profits rose 11 per cent to £97.6m in the 12 months to 2 July, on revenues of £2.3bn.

OFT resumes Ryanair inquiry

The Office of Fair Trading has resumed its investigation into Ryanair’s minority stake in its Irish rival Aer Lingus, and said yesterday it expected to reach a decision by the end of next month. The watchdog began an inquiry almost a year ago into whether Ryanair’s near 30 per cent holding in Aer Lingus hampered competition.

Melrose ups offer for Charter

The buyout firm Melrose has stepped up its pursuit of engineer Charter with a new takeover proposal worth £1.4bn. Dublin-based Charter, which owns businesses focused on welding, cutting and automation and on air and gas handling, has opened talks with Melrose and opened its books to allow it to perform due diligence checks.

Walmsley calls in administrators

A turnaround firm has acquired parts of Walmsley Furnishing out of administration, although 35 of its 60 stores have been shut. SKG Capital has bought 25 of the West Midlands-based furniture retailer’s stores after it became the latest chain to collapse. Habitat UK folded in June but Home Retail bought three stores and the brand.

Legoland to build sites across Asia

Merlin Entertainments, the owner of the Alton Towers amusement park, is looking to open Legoland sites across the Asia-Pacific region. Merlin said work would begin on planning for a potential new site in Chuncheon City, South Korea, some 60km from the capital, Seoul.

Rolls expands nuclear business

Rolls-Royce is to grow its civil nuclear business with the acquisition of American inspection technology business R Brooks. The company has 104 employees based in the United States, France and the UK. Rolls already employs about 2,900 staff in its nuclear operations in the UK, France, US and Canada.

House prices fell in August

House prices fell by 0.6 per cent in August, according to Nationwide Building Society, wiping out the 0.3 per cent gain identified by the mortgage lender in July. The average UK house now costs £165,914. Nationwide noted that the market had been moving sideways for a while, amid weak demand and supply.

Fewer ‘workless’ households

The number of households in the UK where no one is working has fallen slightly to just under 4 million. There was a fall of 38,000 in the quarter to June to 3.88 million (18.8 per cent), according to the Office for National Statistics. A total of 1.84 million children lived in these so-called workless households.

Moat quits Everything post

Richard Moat, the telecoms executive who won praise for turning around T-Mobile before its merger with Orange, has quit the Everything Everywhere venture formed by the combination. His departure as chief financial officer and deputy chief executive came under a shake-up by new chief executive Olaf Swantee.

Vander Hoeven new IEA chief

Maria van der Hoeven, the Dutch politican, took over as head of the International Energy Agency yesterday. She replaces Nobuo Tanaka at the helm of organisation, which represents oil consuming countries, at a time when the IEA has instigated a controversial release of oil from emergency stocks.

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