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The Business Matrix: Friday 4 March 2011

Stone rejects Twitter gossip

Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, has disappointed investors hoping for a swift stock market listing for the micro-blogging site, saying the company was “not even discussing it internally” and had held no talks with JPMorgan.

KwikFit sold to Japanese investor

Itochu Corp, the Japanese conglomerate, has paid £637m to buy Britain’s Kwik-Fit from its private equity owner, PAI Partners. The business, which was founded by Sir Tom Farmer in 1971, will sit alongside Stapleton’s Tyre Services in Itochu’s portfolio of assets in Britain, with its new owner promising investment.

Balfour Beatty celebrates sales

Balfour Beatty, the engineering company that is now nearing completion of the Aquatics Centre in the London 2012 Olympic Park, said its order book was now worth a record £15.2bn, an increase of 8 per cent on a year ago, after a series of contract wins in the UK and abroad.

Premium traffic boost for BA group

IAG, the airline group formed by the merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia, said passenger numbers were up by 1.4 per cent last month compared to a year ago. However, the group was particularly pleased with an 8.2 per cent increase in premium class travel last month.

Trinity Mirror mired in gloom

Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror warned it was concerned about the impact of a “slow and volatile” economic recovery. It revealed a 40 per cent profits rise, to £101.5m last year, thanks to cost cuts, but this was overshadowed by a sharp drop in revenues, which were down 6.9 per cent.

Yunus prepares to exit Grameen Bank

Muhammad Yunus said hewas looking for a “graceful exit” from Grameen Bank, the microfinance specialist that he founded in Bangladesh, an initiative for which he won a Nobel Prize. Mr Yunus has been told to step down by the Bangladeshi Government.

Total buys into Russia in $4bn deal

France’s Total, Europe’s third-largest oil company, has agreed to pay $4bn (£2.5bn) for 12 per cent of Russia’s Novatek in the latest example of the trend that has seen international energy producers rush to explore the country's Arctic resources. The deal was welcomed in Russia, where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said it had “great potential”.

Amec sees profits defy economy

The international engineering and project-management group Amec has insisted that it will continue to grow regardless of the pace of economic recovery in its core markets. The company revealed that its pre-tax profits for 2010 had risen to £258.2m, up from £203.5m the previous year, on total sales of almost £3bn.

Rolls-Royce rebuts engine claims

Rolls-Royce has again attempted to put behind it the incident in which one of its engines failed on a Qantas flight last November. Andrew Dudgeon, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Australia Services, denied reports that company officials were aware of problems with its Trent 900 engines before the accident on the A380 plane.

News Corp cleared to buy BSkyB

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has given provisional backing to a deal through which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp would be allowed to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own as long as it spins off the Sky News channel as an independent company. The agreement has been widely criticised. MORE

JJB in ultimatum to creditors

Troubled sports retailer JJB has offered the landlords of about 90 shops a deal that would see it pay reduced rent rather than fall into administration. The company needs 75 per cent of the landlords affected to back the deal, or it faces closure. MORE

Aviva considers asset sales

Avivia is considering asset sales this year to home in on its most important markets after life insurance sales contributed to a strong rise in annual profits. Aviva has unveiled operating profits up 26 per cent to £2.55bn for 2010.

Cobham boosted by better margins

Defence company Cobham has revealed that its underlying pretax profits in 2010 were up by a healthy 4 per cent to £306m, on revenues broadly flat at £1.9bn, thanks to an improvement in margins to 18.3 per cent.

BP duo get bonuses despite oil spill

Two directors of the oil giant BP are to be paid substantial bonuses for their work during 2010, a year in which the oil giant slumped to a loss after suffering a catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico that claimed lives and caused huge environmental damage. MORE

Returns up 40 per cent at Glencore

Glencore, the Swiss commodities trader, which is being closely watched ahead of a possible listing later this year, saw its profits rise by 40 per cent to $3.8bn (£2.3bn) in 2010 as higher prices boosted its bottom line.

Psion ups dividend as it bounces back

Psion, a manufacturer of handheld computers for commercial and industrial use, has increased its dividend after swinging into profit for 2010. It said sales had continued improving during the first months of 2011.