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The Business Matrix: Friday 21 February 2014


Go-Ahead profits rise by 31 per cent

Go-Ahead, the biggest operator of London buses and the Southeastern, Southern and London Midland rail franchises, saw profits jump 31 per cent in the past six months. Pre-tax profits rose to £40.3m. It has bid to run Thameslink and Crossrail, but warned rail will lose money due to an extension on its Southeastern franchise.

Software company hits £76m jackpot

The Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi has racked up £76m in dividends as Playtech, the gambling software company he founded, announced plans for a £100m special payout after a bumper year. Playtech is paying out £155m in total, including the special, final and interim dividends. Its software clients include Betfair and Ladbrokes.

Tchenguizs lose accounts appeal

Accountant Grant Thornton will be forced to hand over five reports into dealings between the brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz and the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing after losing a court appeal. The reports formed the basis for Serious Fraud Office raids in 2011 on the brothers, who are suing the SFO.

Panama Canal work restarted

Work on the Panama Canal – to allow larger ships to pass between the Atlantic and Pacific – restarted yesterday after a partial deal between the canal authorities and a Spanish-led consortium after work stopped over $1.6bn cost overruns. Analysts warned that prolonged delays could hit a number of US liquefied natural gas exporters.

Harvey Nash post 7% profit increase

The executive recruiter Harvey Nash said annual results were in line with expectations, with revenues 17 per cent higher and gross profit up 7 per cent.Fourth-quarter profits in the UK and Ireland were 10 per cent higher than a year ago, while Hong Kong drove a 58 per cent rise in profits in Asia.

Interest rates to rise 'next spring'

Interest rates are likely to rise from their historic low of 0.5 per cent in the spring of next year, according to Martin Weale, a member of the Bank of England's rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee. Mr Weale told Sky News "the first rise will come, perhaps, in the spring of next year".

You Snooze and they don't lose…

Snoozebox Holdings, which provides portable hotel accommodation, said revenues for 2013 were around 80 per cent higher year-on-year at £6.5m. Sales for events this year are also up, with the company due to operate a hotel for the host broadcaster at golf's Ryder Cup.

EE beats targets after mergers

Mobile phone giant EE posted a 10.1 per cent rise in underlying earnings to £1.6bn in 2013 and said it had beaten targets to reduce costs as a result of merging Orange and T-Mobile, with savings of £457m. The group said it added 194,000 customers in the fourth quarter.

Drinks' cans firm sees flat returns

Drinks' cans group Rexam reported weaker than expected sales for 2013, up 1 per cent to £3.9bn. The group posted a 4 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £372m, but said adjusted earnings remained flat at £449m.

Petrofac secures £720m BP contract

Petrofac, the global oil and gas services provider, has been awarded a £720m contract with BP for the Khazzan gas project in Oman. The work will include engineering, procurement and construction of the processing facility at the Kazzan field.