The Business Matrix: Wednesday 29 October 2014


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Bumper harvest for Chapel Down

The Kent-based wine producer Chapel Down has harvested 40 per cent more grapes this year compared with last year’s record haul, allowing it to produce nearly one million bottles of wine. A particularly warm September triggered one of the earliest harvests of the past decade and exceptional grape quality.

House prices fall in September

House prices in London dipped by 0.7 per cent in September, outstripping a 0.2 per cent nationwide fall, the Land Registry said yesterday. However, prices in the capital were still up 18.4 per cent year-on-year, with an average price of £460,521 in the month. The biggest fall was recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Alibaba founder’s wealth triples

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is China’s richest person with a fortune of $19.5bn (£12bn), according to Forbes Media. Mr Ma’s wealth more than doubled from last year’s $7.1bn after his e-commerce giant’s record-setting shares sale last month. The total number of billionaires in China rose to 242 this year from 168 in 2013.

Strauss-Kahn quits bank

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, stepped down as chairman of a Luxembourg bank days before his businsess partner died. He gave up his job at Leyne, Strauss-Kahn & Partners on 20 October. His partner, Thierry Leyne, fell to his death from a building in  Tel Aviv last Thursday.

Sweden cuts rates to zero

Sweden’s central bank has unexpectedly slashed interest rates to zero to ward off the threat of deflation. The Riksbank also forecast that rates would not begin to rise until the middle of 2016. Inflation in Sweden fell to 0.3 per cent in September, below the bank’s forecast.

Tullett broker faces Libor probe

The Serious Fraud Office has launched criminal proceedings against a former employee at the broker Tullett Prebon over the Libor affair. Noel Cryan is alleged to have conspired to defraud between February and December 2009. He is the first Tullett employee to face charges over the rate-setting scandal.

Pfizer enjoys profits boost

The US drugs giant Pfizer reported better-than-expected quarterly profits of $2.7bn (£1.7bn), helped by rising sales of its cancer drugs, but it did not signal any acquisition plans following its recent failed attempt to buy its British rival AstraZeneca.

Honda reduces sales forecasts

Honda has trimmed its full-year sales forecast citing “tough” competition in Japan and China as well as the impact of recalls. But it said a weak yen would help it maintain its operating profit goal. Operating profit fell 4.1 per cent to ¥164.4bn (£940m) in the second quarter.

France and Italy budgets accepted

Brussels provisionally accepted the amended budgets of France and Italy yesterday, saying no states had submitted deficit plans for 2015 that seriously breached European Union rules. Detailed analysis of plans will continue next month.

US sues AT&T over ‘deception’

The US government has filed a lawsuit against AT&T for deceiving customers, alleging that the wireless carrier sold unlimited data plans but reduced people’s internet speeds once they exceeded a certain amount of data.