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The Business Matrix: Friday 29 December 2011

BP's top US exec ordered to testify

BP's top US executive has been subpoenaed to testify in New Orleans over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP America chairman and president Lamar McKay will give evidence in the February trial which will determine who was liable for the disaster that saw more than 4.1 million barrels of oil gush out of the well off the coast of Louisiana last year.

Dutch sale nets Thomas Cook €18m

Tour operator Thomas Cook yesterday kicked off its emergency yard sale of non-essential assets as it fights to reduce its crippling debts. The company is selling a large Dutch office which it no longer considers to be core to the business. The proceeds – €18m – will provide only a fraction of the €200m in sell-offs Thomas Cook is targeting.

Oil price falls as Iran's bluff is called

The price of oil fell yesterday after six days of gains as investors decided that Iran's threats of blocking oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz were a bluff. Tehran had said on Tuesday that it would stop ships passing through the waterway if sanctions were imposed on its own oil exports. Brent crude oil fell $1.11 a barrel to $108.14.

Diggle invites in food investors

Stephen Diggle, the canny Oxford-educated multi- millionaire hedge fund manager whose funds made $2.7bn in the grim years of 2007 and 2008 is giving outsiders a chance to invest in his family's vast agricultural investments. Diggle has bought farms in Uruguay, New Zealand and Illinois in a successful gamble on rising food prices.

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