The Business Matrix: Friday 5 August 2011

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Eurozone slips back into crisis

The efforts of Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), to ease market nervousness about eurozone sovereign debt appeared to fail yesterday, as both bond and stock markets suffered steep reverses. He said the ECB was still buying government bonds, but traders were not reassured. MORE

Blacks Leisure chairman quits

David Bernstein, the chairman of Blacks Leisure, is standing down from the retailer. Mr Bernstein announced his decision yesterday amid a high-profile campaign for change at Blacks by Mike Ashley, the retail tycoon who is its largest shareholder. Mr Ashley voted against Mr Bernstein’s reappointment at the Blacks agm. MORE

Price hikes give Unilever a boost

Unilever, the consumer goods giant, delivered second-quarter revenues ahead of City expectations, boosted by price hikes and a strong performance in both Western Europe and emerging markets. The maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream said it had delivered a 7.1 per cent increase in sales to €11.9bn in the quarter to 30 June.

Tesco beefs up fashion team

Tesco has promoted Jan Marchant, its UK buying director for clothing, to a senior role in its European fashion business and recruited a former director from Marks & Spencer to replace her. Ms Marchant has taken the role of design director of its F&F Europe operation, as the grocer ramps up its non-food business on the continent.

Car sales still stuck in slow lane

Car sales fell by 3.5 per cent in July, the 13th consecutive month of declines, as economic fears took their toll on motorists, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said yesterday. Just 131,634 vehicles rolled out of British showrooms last month, some 4,812 fewer than in July 2010.

Banks miss SME lending target

Britain’s five biggest banks have narrowly missed government-agreed targets to lend small UK businesses a total of £38bn in the first half of the year, after HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland fell short of their targets. The five, including Lloyds, RBS and Santander, are about £1bn short of their target.

Misys takeover talks collapse

US-based payment services group Fidelity National Information Services has pulled the plug on its £1.4bn takeover approach for Britain’s Misys, sending the software company’s shares plunging yesterday. The US group walked away after the two sides failed to agree on a price for the potential deal.

Inmarsat dives on maritime setback

Shares in Inmarsat dived by a fifth yesterday despite soaring profits in the first half of the year, as it warned that the slowdown in its maritime business would drag on for longer than it had initially expected. The satellite operator reported a 68 per cent jump in profits to $254.8m in the six months to end-June.

Former banker charged by FSA

A former Mizuho investment banker and two associates have been charged with insider dealing by the Financial Services Authority. Thomas Ammann – who was fired by the Japanese bank, which is not implicated in the case, when he was arrested last November – faces three counts of insider dealing.

Investec is suitor for Evolution

South African banking giant Investec was yesterday unveiled as the mystery suitor for Evolution Group, the UK stockbroker. The firm revealed onWednesday it had received a preliminary approach, but declined to name the party, sending the broker’s shares up by 8.5 per cent.