The Business Matrix: Wednesday 5 November 2014


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X5 fails to put the brakes on slump

Demand for BMW’s X5 helped sales grow 4.5 per cent to €19.6bn (£15.3bn) in the third quarter but profits slipped to €1.31bn from €1.32bn a year ago, mostly because of a higher tax bill. Profits missed analysts’ expectations but BMW said key markets in Europe “finally returned to positive growth”. Sales of X5s rose 34 per cent.

Magrath given the boot by Balfour

Balfour Beatty’s chief financial officer Duncan Magrath has been shown the door at the construction firm after a series of profit warnings. He follows former boss Andrew McNaughton, who was sacked in May after the building division fell apart. Qinetiq’s boss Leo Quinn will lead Balfour from next year.

Ireland warned about losing ‘edge’

Former Apple boss John Sculley has warned Ireland risks losing its “edge” for multinationals if it scraps tax incentives such as the “double Irish”. He was speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin, often called Davos for Geeks, from where Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny earlier rang Nasdaq’s opening bell.

Santander banks 26% profits boost

Santander UK attracted 900,000 new customers to its 1/2/3 World account in the first nine months for the year. It is now winning one in four UK bank customers who switch accounts. Annual profits before tax at the bank, whose boss Ana Botin left to run the parent bank in Spain in September, jumped 26 per cent to £1bn.

Eurozone growth forecasts slashed

The eurozone’s malaise deepened yesterday as the stuttering French and German economies prompted the European Commission to slash growth forecasts. The bloc will grow 0.8 per cent in 2014 – down from May’s 1.2 per cent forecast – while 2015 growth was pared from 1.7 per cent to 1.1 per cent.

IMF austerity advice was wrong

The International Monetary Fund gave bad advice when it urged developed countries to impose fiscal austerity four years ago, the Fund’s own watchdog has concluded. The Independent Evaluation Office added that excessive austerity has held back the global recovery.

Congo bet pays  off for Glencore

Glencore’s takeovers of mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, helped by tycoon Dan Gertler, are paying off, with copper output surging. Its trading division, which made a profit of £1bn in the first half, continues to perform “in line with our plans”, the firm said.

Persimmon sales back to normal

Persimmon said it sold this year’s supply of its housing stock between 1 July to 3 November, and has so far made £695m  of forward sales, up 12 per cent on a year ago. The builder said the market had returned to a more normal level of sales after last year’s Help to Buy boost.

Annuities lift Legal & General

Legal & General said annuity sales lifted 16 per cent to £39.9bn in the third quarter compared to a year ago, driven by corporate annuity revenues that have offset a slump in individual annuities since Budget reforms in March.

Weir to close five small factories

Weir is to close five small manufacturing facilities in 2015 as part of attempts to save £35m a year. The sites are in France, Australia and North America. The engineer said its recent orders  were up 14 per cent, excluding currency fluctuations.