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The Business Matrix: Friday 26 October 2012

Santander loses £52m from bid

Santander UK has revealed that its aborted £1.7bn bid to buy 316 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland cost it £52m. The bank also revealed a dramatic drop in lending to home buyers during the third quarter. The bank's share of the new-mortgage market fell from 16.3 per cent in 2011 to 10.8 per cent in 2011.

AstraZeneca profits on the slide

The new chief executive of AstraZeneca might need to up the dosage of his treatment plans for Britain's second-biggest drug maker, after it posted a worse-than-expected 19 per cent slump in third-quarter sales. Quarterly profits fell from £2.5bn a year ago to £1.2bn. Overall revenues in the third quarter fell to $4.1bn.

PPR sales figures fashionably great

Delicately weaved leather Bottega bags and finely made Yves Saint Laurent fashions helped their owner to prove there isn't a luxury-goods-sales slowdown. PPR, which also owns Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, revealed a 16 per cent jump in third-quarter sales.

Firms given new licences to drill

The UK handed out 167 new licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea yesterday, with BP, Shell, Centrica and France's Total among the biggest recipients. This came as the Government announced that proven and probable reserves amounted to 5 per cent more than previously thought – at 788 million tons.

Fall in profits hits Bloomsbury

Shares in Bloomsbury, the Harry Potter publisher, tumbled more than 6 per cent yesterday after a sharp drop in half-year profits.Nigel Newton, the chief executive, said that part of the reason for the slide in the six months to August was seasonal, as the market peaks around Christmas.

Xstrata considers £33bn offer

Shareholders in the miner Xstrata will vote on a $33bn proposed takeover by trader Glencore on 20 November. The vote will take place 10 months after Glencore first approached Xstrata. The deal is back on after investor pressure forced the commodities trader in September to raise its bid.

Sweet success for Boparan Holdings

Boparan Holdings, which owns Fox's biscuits and Goodfella's pizza, has agreed to sell its Avana Christmas-puddings business in a deal with tarts- and pies-maker Sargents that will satisfy competition concerns raised by its recent acquisition of Brookes Avana from Premier Foods.

Stobart motors ahead with gains

Stobart Group's core transport-and-distribution division grew half-year profits by £500,000 to £14.2m, despite revenues falling 5 per cent to £251m. Including restructuring costs and other divisions such as Southend airport, half-yearly profits fell to £6.6m from £15m in 2011.

Luxury cars remain in favour

Demand for luxury cars from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Lexus remains "robust", according to the car dealer Inchcape, which has steadily pushed its dealerships more upmarket. Sales in the past three months rose 4 per cent to £1.5bn.

Unilever prepares for tough times

Unilever, the consumer-goods giant behind brands such as Lynx, Hellman's and Ben & Jerry's, has warned of tough times ahead due to rising commodity costs, despite managing to beat quarterly sales forecasts with a 5.9 per cent rise.

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