The Business Matrix: Wednesday 19 November 2014


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E1’s box office hits double profits

Booming TV revenues helped Entertainment One (E1), the distributor of Peppa Pig and  The Hunger Games (left), see its profits double to £2.4m in the half year to October. Chief executive Darren Throop said E1 was benefiting from “some of the decade’s most memorable hits including The Twilight Saga, and The Walking Dead”.

AstraZeneca can rebuff Pfizer move

The fund manager Neil Woodford has claimed that AstraZeneca’s pipeline of new drugs means its ability to rebuff a bid from rival Pfizer is “even stronger” than before. Takeover rules mean that Pfizer is unable to approach AstraZeneca until next Wednesday having failed with a previous £69bn bid earlier this year.

Shell wins tax dispute in India

An Indian court has ruled in favour of the Indian branch of Shell in a multimillion-dollar tax dispute, the latest verdict against the tax department that has been vigorously pursing claims against foreign firms in India. Shell had challenged a claim it had underpriced shares transferred to its parent company by $2.5bn.

Mansion tax talk depresses market

Fears over Labour’s mansion tax will drag on the housing market between now and the next general election, estate agent Savills warned. The tax threatens to add at least £250 a month to the tax bills of those with a property valued at more than £3m and is likely to depress activity for the next six months, the firm added.

Enterprise toasts return to profit

Enterprise Inns swung to a £30m pre-tax profit from a £4m loss in the year to the end of September, aided by warmer weather, the World Cup and fewer exceptional charges.  The Solihull-based firm, which has 5,348 leased and tenanted pubs, has benefited from a recovering economy.

VW best as sales in Europe grow

European car sales are heading for their first annual growth since the financial crisis in 2008. Sales rose 6.5 per cent in October – the 14th consecutive month of growth – and on an annualised base were the strongest for five years. Volkswagen continued to dominate the market.

Nokia tablet has China connection

Nokia has launched its first consumer electronics product since the £4.5bn sale of its mobile phone handset business to Microsoft earlier this year. It is linking up with Foxconn, the Chinese mobile manufacturer, to launch a new tablet designed by and marketed as a Nokia.

Patrons down, but profits increase

Cineworld said admissions fell 0.9 per cent in the 46 weeks to 13 November but box office takings lifted 0.7 per cent due to higher ticket prices and the phasing of film releases in the UK compared to a year ago. The group has 205 sites in the UK, Eastern Europe and Israel.

Homeserve adds to customer base

Homeserve added 110,000 new UK customers in the six months to 30 September, giving it a total 2.1 million after its retention rate remained at 82 per cent. UK profits were slightly lower at £21.1m, while the group figure was up 2 per cent at £26m.

Balfour hopes to change UK scene

Balfour Beatty is pushing on with a shake-up of its UK construction business, saying it “continues to prioritise” actions to address issues in UK construction, including further overhead reductions and supply chain savings.