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The Business Matrix: Friday 31 January

BSkyB bullish as BT enters pay-TV

BSkyB said that BT's entry into pay-TV is not hitting subscriber growth, despite an 18 per cent plunge in half-year profits to £527m. The fall was expected as Sky had to pay a record £2.3bn for Premier League rights when BT forced up the bids. But Sky shares jumped nearly 4 per cent, as it added 100,000 broadband and phone customers.

Asos is 'company of the decade'

Online fashion giant Asos was declared "company of the decade" at the Quoted Company Awards. The ceremony, considered the "Oscars" for small companies on the Stock Exchange, also named Richard Law, the chief executive of GB Group, the identity technology firm, chief executive of the year. i was a media partner.

Sales of Diageo spirits jump 24%

Sales of premium spirits brands owned by the drinks giant Diageo jumped 24 per cent in the UK in the six months to 31 December, but there were weaknesses in emerging markets. Yesterday's news of a 3 per cent rise in operating profits, to £2.1bn, missed City forecasts, and the shares fell by 4 per cent at 1820p.

Economy grows at 3.2% year on year

The US economy continued to grow at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2013, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the growth over the three months was 0.8 per cent, a touch higher than the UK's 0.7 per cent over the same period.

1.1 million choose Santander 123

Santander UK said that 1.1 million people opened new 123 accounts in the past nine months, with 232,000 of them switching from rivals. Profits were flat in 2013 as it shrank its mortgage book. It also postponed plans to float on the London stock market for another year.

H&M profits fail to hit expectations

H&M, the world's second biggest clothing retailer, said profits failed to meet expectations owing to heavy discounting in the build-up to Christmas. Net income for the three months to the end of November rose 6.1 per cent to £526m, below an expected £560m, while sales rose 12 per cent to £3.4bn.

EU consumers are far more confident

Consumer confidence is at its highest since September 2007, the European Commission's monthly survey, conducted by GFK, found. The overall index score rose to -7 this month, six points higher than in December, following three consecutive months of slight declines.

John Lewis to reduce payouts

Pension payouts at retirement will fall for John Lewis staff as the employee-owned department store announced plans to overhaul its gold-plated defined benefit pension scheme. The company has been looking into reducing its £840m pension deficit for almost a year..

Johnson Matthey boss to step down

The boss of catalytic converter business Johnson Matthey will leave the company this summer after a decade at the helm. Neil Carson will be replaced by the current finance director, Robert MacLeod, following the AGM in June.

National Grid weathers storm

Gas and electricity network operator National Grid said disruption and costs related to extreme weather in recent weeks were less than in previous years despite an ice storm in the US and floods and storms in Britain.

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