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The Business Matrix: Friday 27 May 2011

Hi-tech net profits for Qinetiq

Qinetiq swung back to profit following bumper sales of a hi-tech netting designed to protect armoured vehicles from rocket attacks. But the defence firm, which posted full-year profits of £26.6m, compared with a £66.1m loss a year ago, warned that its markets remain challenging as defence budgets in the UK and US are cut.

Banks face new pay pressure

The chief executives of Britain’s biggest banks are under pressure to reveal how their salaries are linked to their institutions’ performance when it comes to hitting lending targets agreed with the Government earlier this year. The banks face accusations that they have lent less than promised to small and mediumsized businesses. MORE

Japan boosts Tiffany sales

Tiffany & Co said sales in Japan have picked up more quickly than expected after the March earthquake, prompting the New York based jeweller to raise its profits forecast. Tiffany, which gets nearly a fifth of its revenues from Japan, said global sales rose 20 per cent to $761m in the first quarter. Sales in Japan, where it has 57 stores, rose 7 per cent.

Burberry to cash in on luxury boom

Burberry, the upmarket retailer, plans a major expansion of its global network of stores following a bumper period of trading. The British retailer believes that many of its key markets, including the UK, are currently experiencing a boom in demand for luxury goods and it is doubling its investment spending in a bid to take advantage. MORE

Youngs suffers deal hangover

Young & Co’s Brewery blamed the £60m acquisition of the Geronimo pub chain in December for a 17 per cent drop in annual profits to £15m. The pub group however said it was cautiously optimistic for the current year, saying the quality of its pub estate would help it deal with a “fragile economic recovery”.

New launches add to Man’sfunds

Man, the London-based hedge fund firm, has reported better-than-expected profits and a strong rise in assets, with the business boosted by the launch of a new version of its flagship AHL fund in Japan. The FTSE 100-listed group now manages $71bn in client assets, up 3 per cent from $69.1bn in March.

United Utilities battles big freeze

United Utilities has praised its staff’s efforts in ensuring the UK’s largest utility met its annual leakage target. Between Christmas and the new year, United received 40,000 calls reporting burst pipes. Yesterday it posted a lower-than-expected drop in annual profits of 32 per cent to £329m.

Dutch contract boosts Shanks

The waste manager Shanks has posted a better than expected 6 per cent rise in underlying annual profits to £35m. The company, which employs 4,000 staff across Europe and Canada, makes about half its sales in the Netherlands, where it recently won a contract to recycle Unilever’s waste.

Rank rejects Guoco bid

The bingo and casino operator Rank has urged investors to reject a £586m takeover bid from investment group Guoco, citing plans to double the G Casino brand to 30 sites by 2015. Rank, which runs Mecca and Grosvenor casinos, also expects at least £275m in VAT refunds over the next two to three years.

Sportingbet buys Centrebet

The online gaming firm Sportingbet has agreed to buy Australia’s Centrebet International for A$183m (£119m), funding the deal with a discounted share sale and bond issue. Sportingbet said it would raise £130m to pay for the deal, half of which would be through a 42p a share rights issue.