The Business Matrix: Friday 6 March 2015


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The Independent Online

Adidas World Cup win hit by Russia

It was a World Cup year and Adidas sponsored winners Germany and finalists Argentina – but the world’s second-biggest sportswear group still saw pre-tax profit fall 38 per cent to €490m in 2014. Sales, when the impact of currency movements was stripped out, rose 6 per cent, but turmoil in Russia hit profits.

6th anniversary of record low rates

The Bank of England marked the sixth anniversary of record low interest rates yesterday, holding borrowing costs at 0.5 per cent for the 72nd meeting running. Threadneedle Street – which has also pumped £375bn into the UK economy through quantitative easing – is not expected to lift rates higher until early next year.

Average UK home costs 0.3% less

Britain’s cooling housing market continued into February but increased consumer spending power could boost future values, lender Halifax said yesterday. The cost of the average UK home fell 0.3 per cent in February to £192,372, although prices in the quarter were up 2.6 per cent on the previous three months.

Fraud squad in  Heron Tower raid

The offices of a financial services firm based in the London skyscraper, the Heron Tower, were raided by the City of London fraud squad yesterday. Thirteen workers – 10 men and three women – were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Virgin Money in 127% profits surge 

Virgin Money, the bank  80 per cent owned by  Sir Richard Branson and the US billionaire Wilbur Ross, posted a 127 per cent surge in annual profits to £121m on the back of strong mortgage sales. Shares in the bank, which was formed largely from Northern Rock, rose 5 per cent to 16p.

AbbVie pays £14bn for Pharmacyclics

The US drug maker AbbVie has made an 11th-hour swoop to buy Pharmacyclics for $21bn (£14bn). Johnson & Johnson had been thought to be close to a deal with the biopharma  cancer firm, but AbbVie, which tried and failed to buy the London-listed Shire for £32bn last year, crossed the line first.

Davis closes  X2 fundraising

Mick Davis said he had finished fundraising for X2, the company he set up to buy unloved mining assets. X2, his third mining company creation after Billiton and Xstrata, has raised $5.6bn (£3.7bn) It means that, when he adds bank debt, he can spend about $15bn.

£40m currency hit for Aggreko

Temporary power supplier Aggreko has reported a  13 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £289m as the impact of currency movements took a £40m chunk out of its earnings. The group last year provided power to the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup.

Schroders warns of volatile markets

Schroders warns that financial markets are likely to be more volatile this year after a calm start. The fund manager saw its assets under management hit £300bn on the back of net inflows of £24.8bn. Profits rose 16 per cent to £517.1m.

Rio Tinto set to cut costs and jobs

Global mining firm Rio Tinto is expected to cut costs and jobs across six divisions as the company battles a slump in commodity prices. Rio Tinto is heavily reliant on the price of iron ore, which has fallen 50 per cent in the last year alone.