The Business Matrix: Friday 28 October 2011

More people use Go-Ahead buses

The rising cost of motoring is encouraging commuters across the country to use public transport, according to Go-Ahead. The bus and train operator said it was carrying more fare-paying passengers and bus revenues outside London had risen by 4 per cent. Profits at its rail franchises rose by between 8 and 12 per cent.

Regulatory costs hit Santander UK

Santander UK blamed new rules which force it to hold more cash to protect against future financial crises for a nine per cent fall in profits and warned the impact is likely to be felt until 2013. The UK’s fifth biggest bank said regulatory costs had increased by £253m, as profits in the nine months to September slipped to £1.65bn.

Bloomsbury looks for Christmas hits

Bloomsbury, with first-half profits boosted by a 564 per cent rise in ebook sales, is betting new cook books by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal will be Christmas hits. The publisher said much of the growth in the first half had come from people switching to ebooks, with profits up 52 per cent to £2m.

Profits double at AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca, the UK’s second-biggest drug maker, said third-quarter net profit more than doubled to $3.48bn (£2.2bn) from $1.55bn a year earlier. The $1.8bn sale of its dental-implant and surgical equipment maker Astra Tech to Dentsply International boosted the third-quarter performance, AstraZeneca said.

Profits down 22% at William Hill

William Hill has seen a sharp fall in profits in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2010, but said it remains on track to hit full-year expectations. The book maker said its third-quarter profits were down 22 per cent, leaving the group’s profits 3 per cent lower over the year to date.

TPG aims for more Republic stores

The private equity firm behind Republic is poised to inject fresh funds into the fashion retailer, following the appointment of a restructuring team from Ernst &Young. TPG, which acquired the branded clothing chain in a deal worth £300m in April last year, is putting more capital into Republic to invest in areas such as new stores and online.

Ivell holds the fort at M&B

Mitchells & Butlers interim chief executive, Jeremy Blood, is to leave the pub and restaurants group, the ninth change of chief executive or chairman at the group in four years. The interim chairman, Bob Ivell, will run the company until a chief executive is in place, when he will step back to a non-executive role.

Future loses CEO and finance chief

Future’s chief executive and finance chief resigned with immediate effect yesterday, months after the magazine publisher warned on its profits. The publisher of Classic Rock named Mark Wood as the chief executive and Graham Harding as finance director, to replace Stevie Spring and John Bowman.

US growth climbs to 2.5 per cent

The world’s largest economy expanded strongly in the third quarter, as businesses invested and consumers hit the shops after a long period of caution. US GDP in the three months to the end of September accelerated to an annualised rate of 2.5 per cent, after 0.4 and 1.3 per cent in the first and second quarters.

France cuts its growth forecast

France is reducing its economic growth outlook for 2012 to 1 per cent, from 1.75 per cent previously, and will soon outline further budget savings worth up to €8bn, President Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday. “Naturally we’ll have to revise the budget,” he added. “It’s between €6-€8bn that we have to find.”