The Business Matrix: Friday 20 February 2015


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Madoff set for US TV drama series

Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is set to play Bernie Madoff in a US TV drama series charting the financier’s rise and fall. ABC is planning to screen a four-hour mini-series starring Dreyfuss, while a separate HBO project featuring Robert De Niro is also believed to be in development. Investors lost an estimated $17.5bn (£11.3bn).

Three banks plan £2.8bn bonuses

Three of Britain’s largest banks are finalising plans to pay out a combined £2.8bn in bonuses to their staff over the next few weeks, it emerged yesterday. Barclays and the two taxpayer-backed lenders, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, will announce the payouts alongside their annual results during the next 12 days.

Lush awarded ‘Fair Tax Mark’

Lush Cosmetics has become the first multi-national high-street retailer in the UK to be awarded the “Fair Tax Mark”. The scheme awards companies “making a genuine effort to be open and transparent about their tax affairs and pay the right amount of corporation  tax at the right time and in  the right place”.

Co-op confirms ex-Asda boss hire

The former Asda boss Allan Leighton is to oversee the rebuilding of the Co-operative Group after his appointment as chairman was confirmed yesterday. Mr Leighton, whose father ran a Co-op store, becomes the society’s first independent non-executive chair under its reformed governance structure.

L’Oreal sale sweet for giant Nestlé

Kit Kat and Nescafe-maker Nestlé post a 44 per cent surge in pre-tax profits last year after selling a €6bn (£4.42bn) stake in cosmetics giant L’Oreal. The Swiss firm, which is the world’s biggest food firm, pocketed the gains by cutting its investment in L’Oreal from 29.4 per cent to 23.3 per cent.

Double diamond find boosts Petra

Petra Diamonds said the discovery of two huge stones helped it put a recent profit warning behind it as it raised its production forecasts for the year to about 3.3 million carats. The miner said underlying profits rose 22 per cent to $84.9m (£55.1m) for the six months to the end of December.

Sports Direct hit by ski slowdown

A sluggish ski season across Europe helped to slow group sales at billionaire Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct over Christmas. Despite this, the retailer insisted it is still on course to hit £360m profit target that will release free shares for about 2,000 staff.

SabMiller drops finance chief

The global brewing giant SabMiller has suddenly parted company with its finance director Jamie Wilson after a decade with the business. The Peroni brewer said Mr Wilson had resigned for “personal reasons” but would not give  any further details.

Wal-Mart spends $1bn on pay rises

The US retail giant Wal-Mart, long criticised for its low wages, is to spend more than $1bn (£650m) to increase pay rates in the US. The rise, taking pay to at least $9 a hour this year, and $10 in 2016, is above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Leidos wins MoD logistics contract

Leidos Holdings has beaten off competition from its UK rival Babcock to secure the contract to run logistics for the armed services. Babcock shares fell almost 6 per cent after the US defence group was named preferred bidder.