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The Business Matrix: Friday 3 May 2013

Luxury car slump hits BMW's sales

Europe lingering in the economic doldrums means fewer drivers are splashing out on luxury BMWs: the German car-maker's pre-tax profits fell 3 per cent to €1.3bn (£1.1bn) in the first quarter. Sales at the group, which also owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce marques, were down 4.1 per cent at €17.5bn. as it warned of weak European markets.

Housebuilding activity perks up

Britain's builders were on the mend last month as housebuilding activity perked up, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said. Its monthly health check showed construction output still shrinking but at its shallowest pace for six months. Its index, where a score under 50 signals contraction, improved to 49.4 from 47.2 in March.

L&G offers a helping hand

Legal & General offered the Government a helping hand yesterday as it posted record first-quarter sales and assets under management. It plans to use its own capital to invest directly in infrastructure projects and social housing, taking some of the burden off the state to boost economic growth.

Local authorities forum targets BAE

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum has aerospace giant BAE and insurer Aviva in its sights as it battles for "reasonable" executive pay. The group is calling on members to vote against their remuneration reports at upcoming meetings amid concern over payouts.

Bonuses scrapped after gold slump

The Russian miner Petropavlovsk has scrapped bonuses and incentive payments for its executives and chairman after its shares were hit by a steep gold price drop. Petropavlovsk shares have slumped as it faces lower prices and high costs.

Postman Pat fails to deliver

Bin Weevils toymaker Character Group's profits halved to £8.2m in the six months to March as executive chairman Richard King blamed the "difficult" UK trading conditions. Character sales on toys including Postman Pat, Construct-a-Bugz and Angry Birds slipped to £30.6m from £44.3m in the same period a year earlier.

Call for UBS to split its activities

The activist shareholder Knight Vinke has called on the Swiss bank UBS to split its investment bank, most of which is based in London, from its wealth-management and domestic banking activities. In an open letter Eric Knight, who heads the New York-based fund, said the investment bank "nearly destroyed UBS in 2007-09".

RSA bids to head off AGM revolt

More Than insurer RSA is trying to head off a revolt at its annual meeting later this month. The insurer is holding talks with some of its major shareholders after being criticised for handing its chief executive Simon Lee a £1.5m pay package, including a £480,000 bonus, despite cutting its dividend.

Seoul tension hits Millenniun group

Heightened political tension in Seoul, large refurbishment closures and bad winters either side of the Atlantic saw profits at the international hotel group Millennium & Copthorne drop 35 per cent in the first three months of the year. Revenues were down 3.6 per cent at £169m.

'New boy' Metro sees accounts rise

Metro Bank benefited from dissatisfaction with established banks as the new boy almost trebled the number of current accounts it runs last year from 48,000 to 136,000. The amount held by savers rose by 279 per cent to £576m.

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