The Business Matrix: Friday 6 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Car sales drive forward by 1.8%

Car sales rose 1.8 per cent year on year in March – the crucial month for the industry. The figures will be seen as a healthy signal for the consumer side of the economy. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the new registration plate helped dealers to sell 372,835 vehicles. March typically accounts for about a fifth of annual sales.

Missile contract delay hits Redhall

Shares in Redhall crashed 21 per cent after it warned delays with a subcontractor have hit its contract to make blast-proof doors for the building housing Britain's nuclear warheads. The engineer won a £20m deal to design, make and install the 10-tonne doors for the Atomic Weapons Establishment, which looks after the UK's Trident missiles, last year.

Dubai agrees £2bn debt restructure

Dubai International Capital, the private-equity unit with a stake in the UK budget hotels chain Travelodge, has reached a deal with creditors to restructure £1.6bn of debt, ending nearly two years of talks. The deal is another milestone in Dubai's efforts to rebuild its credibility with investors who fled the region after the financial crisis.

Rothschilds to merge operations

The London investment bank NM Rothschild will become a subsidiary of a Paris-listed holding company, combining all the wealthy family's banking interests. A new company, Paris Orleans et Cie, is to buy out the minority interests in NM Rothschild and combine it with the French private banking arm, Rothschild & Cie Banque.

Flockhart steps back at HSBC

Sandy Flockhart, one of HSBC's longest-serving bankers, is to stand down as an executive director at the end of this month. The 60-year-old will then become a non-executive which – because he is not deemed to be an independent director – means he will be up for re-election every year.

Growth slows at wholesale trader

Newsagents and caterers buying less stock in the first three months of this year saw sales growth at the cash and carry wholesaler Booker's slow. In the year to the third week of March, Booker's sales rose 7.3 per cent to £3.9bn, but over the past three months, that rate fell to 4.8 per cent.

Improvement for Gooch & Housego

Optical components and systems manufacturer Gooch & Housego said it suffered a difficult first half-year. But the firm was encouraged by further signs of confidence returning to the industrial laser market after it received two significant orders from the Far East.

Kewill issues profits warning

Kewill warned that revenues and profits for the year to 31 March will come in below forecasts and will be similar to last year's after its customers turned cautious. The software firm said it had closed only one of three big contracts it had hoped to secure by the year end.

Birmingham to build new Jaguar

The new Jaguar sports car will be built in Birmingham. TheF-type two-seater convertible will be built at Jaguar Land Rover's Castle Bromwich plant. The design will be unveiled later this year, the car maker said at a press conference in New York.

US jobless claims at four-year low

The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits dropped to the lowest level in nearly four years last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the lowest since April 2008.