The Business Matrix: Friday 4 May 2012


Chinese company buys Weetabix

One of China's largest food groups has snapped up Weetabix Food Company in a £1.2bn deal. Bright Foods has bought a 60 per cent stake in Weetabix from private equity firm Lion Capital – the first time a Chinese group has bought a major European brand. The state-owned Bright Foods held talks to buy Britain's United Biscuits last year.

BG Group sells Brazilian gas firm

BG Group, the exploration arm of the former British Gas, has sold its majority stake in a Brazilian gas distribution business for £1.1bn. The group, which also revealed that profits had jumped a fifth in the first quarter, is selling its 60 per cent stake in Comgas to Brazil's Cosan as as it looks to focus on more lucrative oil and gas exploration.

Vauxhall losses put plants at risk

General Motors declared Europe a "work in progress" yesterday as the troubled Opel and Vauxhall unit posted a smaller than expected quarterly loss of $256m. The US car giant has warned it could close plants – with Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Bochum in Germany seen particularly at risk – as it tries to stem the division's losses.

Revenues rise at Smith & Nephew

The medical devices firm Smith & Nephew reported improved margins and a slight rise in revenues of 3 per cent to $1.08bn (£667m) for the three months to 31 March. The chief executive Olivier Bohuon said the figures reflected early steps towards making the company more "fit and effective".

New business sales at £434m

Legal & General said worldwide new business sales were £434m in the first quarter, in line with a year earlier and market expectations. It said savings sales were down 6 per cent to £300m due to lower consumer confidence and disposable income, offset by growth of 8 per cent for risk protection products.

Princes takes over tomato factory

Princes, the Liverpool-based food and drink firm, has taken majority control of Italy's biggest tomato processing factory in Foggia. The deal with its long-term supply partner creates a business employing about 1,200 people at its seasonal peak and processing 400,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year.

Morgan Sindall remains cautious

Morgan Sindall is on track to meet expectations for the year but said construction and infrastructure markets remain competitive, forcing it to "careful" contract selection. Affordable housing has seen some modest improvement but Morgan is still cautious on the outlook.

Go-ahead for Graff IPO in Hong Kong

Graff Diamonds has received the green light from the Hong Kong bourse for a market debut that could raise up to $1bn, paving the way for growth in luxury-hungry Asia. The London jeweller could start drumming up demand for its shares from investors as soon as next week.

Smirnoff revenue up 6 per cent

The Guinness and Smirnoff drinks giant Diageo said net revenues for the quarter to 31 March were up 6 per cent, with strong growth in emerging markets helping to offset continued subdued trading conditions in Europe.

Samsung unveils iPhone rival

Samsung has unveiled a top-of-the-range Galaxy smartphone, updating the most direct rival to Apple's iPhone with a larger touch screen and more powerful processor. The South Korean firm said the S3 model would go on sale in the UK this month.