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The Business Matrix: Friday 28 February 2014

H&T's profits slide but stores do well

The pawnbroker H&T Group said last year was "challenging" as it revealed a 61 per cent slide in pre-tax profits to £6.7m amid slumping gold prices and intense competition. But sales in its stores surged 56 per cent in the fourth quarter as customers sought second-hand jewellery – a trend that had continued into 2014.

Spain begins sell-off of Bankia

Spain has started selling off its nationalised lender Bankia, with investment banks including Deutsche, Morgan Stanley and UBS managing the placing of a 7.5 per cent stake in the business. The state owns 68 per cent of the bank after injecting €18bn (£14.8bn) to rescue it in 2012 as Spain's property market crashed.

Capita profits defy rivals' difficulties

Capita shrugged off a series of scandals over contracts in the outsourcing sector as it said profits rose 14 per cent to £475m in 2013 and revealed £3.3bn in contract wins, with a £5.5bn bid pipeline. Rivals G4S and Serco have been hit hard by alleged overcharging on criminal tagging – a contract Capita is taking over later this year.

Permira plans for £9bn of assets

The private equity fund Permira has agreed to buy investment manager Tilney from Deutsche Bank, as it plans to create a wealth manager with £9bn of assets. "This will propel the combined group right up to the top of the table in the UK market," said Jason Hollands, managing director of Bestinvest.

Ladbroke's chief gets lower payout

Ladbrokes' chief executive, Richard Glynn, has been awarded 192,080 shares worth £290,000 under long-term share incentive plans. News of the payout – which is much lower than last year – comes days after the bookmaker reported sharply falling annual profits.

Yellen keeps Fed clear of Bitcoin

Janet Yellen, the chairman of America's Federal Reserve, told Congress yesterday that the central bank had no authority to supervise or regulate Bitcoin. She was testifying before the Senate Banking Committee after the digital currency's largest exchange collapsed.

Eurozone in bullish mood

Businesses and households in the eurozone are in their most bullish mood for more than two years, buoying hopes for UK exporters in their biggest market. The EC's index of consumer and business sentiment rose to 101.2 for February, the highest since July 2011.

Clients put £420m into Man Group

Man Group showed further signs of recovery in the fourth quarter as clients poured in $700m (£420m), helping the hedge fund to its second consecutive quarter of growth after two years of outflows. Assets under management fell 5 per cent to $54bn in 2013.

Coach travel aids National Express

National Express blamed the loss of its East Anglia rail franchise in 2012 for a drop in pre-tax profits to £144m last year from £164m in 2012. But the group got a boost from a revival in long-distance travel as coach revenues rose 3 per cent.

Cyprus's bailout under threat

Cyprus's parliament has rejected a privatisation plan that is necessary for the island to receive a new tranche of international aid next month. Approval of the privatisations is mandatory under the terms of the €10bn bailout.

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