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The Business Matrix: Friday 6 January 2012

Merry Christmas at the box office

A strong line-up of Christmas family films helped boost box office sales at the UK’s largest cinema operator Cineworld. But retail sales slipped as consumers cut back on buying popcorn and drinks. The group said movie releases for 2012 were promising, with The Hobbit in 3D and the next film from James Bond set to be blockbusters.

Alliance Trust hires FSA deputy

Alliance Trust, the investment giant headed by Katherine Garrat-Cox, will continue its recent history of female board members when Karin Forseke replaces Lesley Knox as chairman in April. Ms Forseke is currently deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority and was formerly at the futures exchange Liffe.

Cussons in £26m Oz hair care deal

The Imperial Leather soap owner PZ Cussons has boosted its beauty division by splashing out £26m on the Australian-owned Fudge Hair Care brand. Fudge, which is being sold by the privately held Sabre Group, is best-known for its Hair Shaper and Matte Hed products, sold through salons in the UK and Australia and New Zealand.

Tullett Prebon calms investors

About 80 traders at the money broker Tullett Prebon have lost their jobs in the City and on Wall Street as austerity bites. Tullett, led by Terry Smith, issued a statement before its results are released in March to reassure investors its business is holding up. Revenues for the year will be "in line" with last year's figure of £908.5m, the firm said.

Electric deal for Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty has won a five-year contract worth up to £750m to upgrade Britain's electricity network. The work, which involves maintaining overhead power lines, is an extension of a deal after the infrastructure group formed the Electricity Alliance East joint venture with the National Grid five years ago.

Small firms turn to credit card loans

The Bank of England revealed yesterday that demand for loans from small firms fell sharply at the end of last year, while the Federation of Small Businesses said such firms were turning to friends, family and even credit cards as it became too hard to borrow from banks. More credit is needed to bring about a recovery.

Lenders extend Petroplus freeze

The plight of the Swiss oil refiner Petroplus worsened yesterday as lenders extended the freeze on its borrowing to all credit lines, on top of £644bn choked off last week. The firm, which has a plant at Coryton in Essex, accounts for 4.4 per cent of European refining capacity.

Dragon bids for Blacks Leisure

The Dragons' Den star Peter Jones has tabled a bid for the ailing outdoor clothing retailer Blacks Leisure. The multi-millionaire is one of four potential buyers, understood to also include Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Sports Direct and retailer JD Sports Fashion.

John Menzies set for 20% profit rise

John Menzies, which runs check-in, baggage handling and ticket desks for 300 airlines worldwide, is predicting its annual profits will exceed last year's by more than 20 per cent. Its newspaper distribution unit is also doing well, it said.

Pound at 16-month high as euro sinks

Sterling rose to its highest level in nearly 16 months against the euro yesterday as fears about Eurozone sovereign funding pressures grew and data showed a pick-up in the UK services sector. The euro fell to 82.50p, its lowest since September 2010.

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