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The Business Matrix: Friday 29 March 2013


Anglo ditches £365m coal deal

Anglo American has abandoned a $555m (£365m) plan to buy a coal project in Mozambique in the latest sign of prudence from miners chastised by investors for excessive spending and poor acquisitions. Anglo said that after months of talks, conditions for the deal "have not been satisfied". It gave no further details.

Saudis' snap up Continental

A London-listed company which owns swathes of the world's most fertile farmland in Ukraine and Poland was snapped up yesterday by Saudi Arabian investors for £61.5m. Continental Farmers Group has agreed to a takeover by United Farmers.

S&P hits high on US hopes

The S&P 500 stock market index smashed records during trading yesterday on hopes that the US economy is improving and the jobs market is picking up. The S&P climbed 0.2 per cent to 1,565 and it looked to be within touching distance of the previous intra-day high of 1,576 set in October 2007 as the credit crunch was about to hit.

BlackBerry falls to £800m loss

BlackBerry offered some hope to investors as it swung back into the black in the last quarter, but the smartphone maker still crashed to an annual loss of $1.22bn (£800m). BlackBerry sold six million smartphones and only 370,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in the same quarter. Annual revenues fell to $11bn against $18bn a year earlier.

Barclays' Ziggo sale for £535m

Barclays yesterday offloaded its stake in Dutch media group Ziggo to the billionaire buying Virgin Media. The bank has sold a 12.7 per cent holding to Liberty Global, which is controlled by John Malone, for £535.4m. Barclays was left with Ziggo shares after failing to find enough bidders for a stake it sold on behalf of Cinven and Warburg Pincus.

Nat Ex chiefs in bonus hike

Coach and rail operator National Express has hiked the size of the potential bonuses it pays its chief executive and finance director to 150 per cent of salary despite a slump in annual profits. Chief executive Dean Finch earned £1.4m last year, including a 117 per cent bonus of £644,000.

Lonrho hit by £3.4m loss

The African conglomerate Lonrho suffered an underlying loss of £3.4m after a year beset by fishing problems and late deliveries of tractors. The industrial and agricultural group issued its full-year results following a profit warning last month.

Tate & Lyle beats fungus damage

Tate & Lyle, the old sugar company that now makes artificial sweeteners, said it had shrugged off the impact of a corn fungus to "deliver modest progress" this year. Corn crops were hit by aflatoxin, a naturally occurring carcinogenic by-product of an olive-green mould. The sweeteners arm will "offset the impact".

Card insurer CPP gets more time

Embattled credit card insurer CPP has been given two weeks' breathing space by its banks as it looks for funds. Lenders have given CPP until 12 April to find more than £40m. Hamish Ogston, the entrepreneur who founded CPP with £1,000 in 1980, has until 24 April to table a bid.

Hornby needs new boss on track

The model railway firm Hornby has begun the search for a new chief executive after Frank Martin announced he is quitting after about 12 years in the role. The maker of Scalextric cars and Airfix kits also said it is culling layers of management to cut costs. Hornby said trading was in line with expectations despite the "challenging" market.