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The Business Matrix: Friday 4 October 2013

Moonpig hit by VAT change

The closure of a tax loophole has hit profits at online birthday and Christmas cards retailer Moonpig. The ending last year of a policy that allowed low-value imports from the Channel Islands to avoid VAT hit profits and revenues at the company, which has a base in Guernsey. Profit for the year to end-April fell to £11.2m from £12m in 2012.

Tinkoff launches London IPO

Oleg Tinkov– a miner by training – has launched the London Stock Exchange flotation of his Russian credit-card business Tinkoff Credit Systems. As well as giving new investors a chance to take a punt on the expected growth of credit in Russia, the float will see Mr Tinkov cash in tens of millions of dollars worth of his stake.

Google backers bet on Skyscanner

The American venture capital company which first backed Apple has taken a stake in the flight and hotel search engine Skyscanner, valuing the British business at $800m. Edinburgh-based Skyscanner did not disclose the size of the investment from Sequoia Capital, which has in the past backed Google, YouTube and PayPal.

Aviva completes $800m US sale

Aviva has completed the sale of its troublesome US business for $800m (£492m) more than expected. The insurer said it offloaded the unit to Athene Holding, a company owned by private equity firm Apollo, for $2.6bn. The deal was higher than the $1.8bn originally agreed between the two parties last year.

Citigroup fined over Apple leak

Citigroup will pay a $30m fine after one of its analysts sent unpublished confidential research on an Apple supplier to big clients, the US Security and Exchange Commission has said. The research revealed low order forecasts for Apple's iPhone. The analyst responsible, Kevin Chang, was dismissed.

EDF closes in on nuclear plant deal

Energy firm EDF is said to be close to an agreement with the UK Government, over prices, which should allow the building of two new nuclear power stations, crucial to the UK hitting it's clean energy targets. The negotiations have been dragging on for a year but sources say resolution is in sight.

Winston hedge fund back on form

Winton Capital Management, the $24.5bn hedge fund founded by David Harding, said profits plunged 64 per cent last year off the back of a slide in the value of its futures investment fund. However, the fund has bounced this year and has returned 14 per cent annually since launch.

Kids swap mobiles for tablet devices

Fewer children now own mobile phones according to industry regulator Ofgem. 43 per cent of youngsters aged five to 15 now own a mobile, compared to 49 per cent in 2012. But kids aren't turning away from technology as many now own tablets instead, Ofgem said.

Vodafone CFO steps down

Vodafone chief financial Officer Andy Halford, a key architect of its controversial tax structure, today quit after nine years in the role. The firm will promote Nick Read, chief executive of its Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific operation, to replace Halford.

FirstGroup keeps Western line

FirstGroup has been granted a two-year extension to run the line from Paddington to the Cotswolds and Wales under its First Great Western brand. The firm added trading meeting forecasts, revenues up 5.7 per cent in six months to October.

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