The Business Matrix: Friday 24 June 2011

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Saab admits it can’t pay staff

Staff at Saab were not paid as usual yesterday after the car maker said it did not have the money to meet the commitments. Its owner Swedish Automobile – formerly Spyker – was meant to pay blue-collars workers yesterday, and its white-collar staff on Monday, but said it had “not yet obtained the necessary short-term funding”.

Greece strikes austerity deal

Greece won the consent of international lenders last night for a five-year austerity plan intended to avoid looming bankruptcy, sources familiar with the talks said, and its prime minister pledged to push radical economic reforms through parliament. Reports of the deal saw US stocks pare losses in late trade and the euro rise.

Record AirAsia order for A320s

Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia, demanded Airbus sales chief John Leahy take to a nightclub dance floor before he signed a record $18bn (£11bn) order for A320neo planes. Details of the negotiations emerged at the Paris Air Show where the order was unveiled. “John said ‘I don’t dance’,” Mr Fernandes recalled. “I said, ‘Fine. I don’t sign’.”

Green light for Waterstone’s sale

HMV got the go-ahead for the sale of its Waterstone’s book chain yesterday after the deal received the overwhelming support of shareholders at a meeting in London. The ailing retailer is selling the 296-store chain to the Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53m as it looks to secure its immediate future.

Regulators want more Google info

US regulators are set to demand more information from Google as part of an anti-trust investigation into the internet giant’s search engine, according to reports in New York. The company, which refused to comment, has been accused by competitors of favouring its own services over rivals in its search results.

Polish sale to net Vodafone £4bn

Vodafone hopes to finalise the sale of its stake in a Polish mobile phone operator in the next two weeks in a deal expected to raise more than £4bn. The UK’s third-largest network and its fellow owners of Polkomtel, Poland’s second-largest operator, are discussing its sale to the tycoon Zygmunt Solorz-Zak.

May sees slump in bank mortgages

Mortgage approvals by banks slumped in May to 21,519, compared with a monthly average of 24,571 over the previous six months, a survey showed. The British Bankers’ Association said gross mortgage lending of £7.6bn in May was lower than the six-month average of £7.9bn and 13 per cent lower than May 2010.

US jobs market is still faltering

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefit rose last week, suggesting little improvement in the jobs market this month after employment stumbled badly in May. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to 429,000, the Labour Department said yesterday.

Paul Smee to head the CML

The Council of Mortgage Lenders named Paul Smee as director-general designate to succeed Michael Coogan. Mr Smee, who has led the Payments Council and the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, takes up his new role on August. He has previously worked at the Association Of British Insurers.

Twins drop Facebook case

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin Harvard graduates who rowed in the Olympics, have decided not to challenge a US Supreme Court ruling that upheld their $65m (£40.6m) settlement with Facebook and its founder. The pair argued that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for his site from them at college.