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The Business Matrix: Friday 20 April 2012

Mixed fortunes for car production

Car production inched ahead last month but commercial-vehicle (CV) production slowed considerably, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. A total of 135,456 cars were made in the UK in March 2012 – up 0.3 per cent on a year ago. But CV production totalled only 9,648 last month – a 21.3 per cent drop on March 2011.

SABMiller drinks to lager figures

Rolling out premium lager Peroni Nastro Azzurro to more pubs helped lager volumes in the UK at brewing giant SABMiller to grow 8 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March. But in Europe as a whole, the Grolsch brewer said volumes were down 1 per cent as competitors aggressively promoted economy brands.

Nokia suffers £759.8m net loss

The struggling cellphone maker Nokia suffered one of its worst quarterly results ever, blaming tough competition for a €929m (£759.8m) net loss as sales fell, especially in the smartphone market. The Finnish firm is fighting competition from the likes of Apple's iPhone and phones using Google Android software.

Argentina to seize Repsol's YPF Gas

Argentina is to expropriate another Repsol-controlled company called YPF Gas, which distributes butane and propane. The move comes after the South American country nationalised the oil firm YPF, which sent shares in the Spanish energy group Repsol tumbling.

Rise in assets at Hargreaves

Investment manager Hargreaves Lansdown said assets under administration increased to a record £26bn in the three months to the end of March. The group said it has also had an encouraging start to April but investor sentiment continued to be low.

Debenhams looks to royal assistance

Debenhams is counting on a boost from the Duchess of Cambridge this summer, after the department-store chain increased half-year profits by 1.4 per cent to £127.1m. It has high hopes for a range of occasionwear from Jenny Packham, the designer whose dress Kate Middleton wore on her first public outing with Prince William.

Aquascutum closes factory

Aquascutum is to shut its factory in Corby – where it has had a presence for more than 100 years – making 115 staff redundant. The retailer, whose trench coats were worn by Winston Churchill and Humphrey Bogart, went into administration on Tuesday in spite of efforts by its owner Harold Tillman to turn it around.

Ladbrokes sees profits increase

A good run of results at the Cheltenham racing festival and the popularity of gambling machines has helped Ladbrokes toast a rise in profits. The UK's second biggest bookmaker said its first quarter profits rose by 3.9 per cent to £50.4m, helped by more punters than normal losing at Cheltenham.

WH Smith expand overseas travel

WH Smith is expanding its travel shops overseas to places as far flung as Fiji and India after the division helped to raise its half-year profits and dividend. Alongside a 3 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £66m, the retailer said it had signed a deal to open a further 20 travel units abroad.

International Power on the up

International Power said revenues in the first three months of the year increased by 5 per cent to £3.5bn. The firm, which has received a takeover offer from GDF Suez, said the performance was helped by strong growth in emerging markets.

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