The Business Matrix: Friday 30 December 2011


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BP braced for oil disaster charges

Oil major BP is bracing itself for criminal charges against some of its US employees, amid claims it misled regulators on the dangers posed by the Deepwater Horizon rig which exploded last year killing 11 employees and unleashing the worst offshore oil spill in American history. A Department of Justice investigation has identified several Houston-based engineers and at least one BP supervisor it expects to charge in the New Year, according to reports.

Optare set to go to Hinduja brothers

The struggling British bus-builder Optare is likely to be bought by the Indian billionaire Hinduja brothers after Sir Brian Souter's rival company pulled out of takeover talks less than a day after expressing an interest. Some industry experts doubted whether the Hindujas would want to keep Optare's Yorkshire factory, and its 500 employees, in the longer term, suggesting they would rather use cheaper factories abroad – a charge they deny.

North Korea 'will open itself up'

A lieutenant of the late Kim Jong-il who defected to South Korea after years of senior positions in the regime has said Kim's son will open up the isolated state to make it more of a market-style export economy. Choi Se-woong, a banker and former No 2 in North Korea's Reunification Development Bank, is the closest to the regime so far to have suggested that the new leader, Kim Jong-un, will liberalise the country. 

Kindle fails to halt Amazon slide

Amazon shares slipped as much as 3 per cent yesterday despite claiming to have sold a record one million Kindle e-reader devices a week worldwide during December. Shares fell $5.71 to $168.18 after analysts at Goldman Sachs forecast Amazon's 38 per cent growth rate would fall short of Wall Street's expectations of 40 per cent. The Kindle e-reader was its top seller in America, the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.