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The Business Matrix: Friday 7 December 2012

Barclays' £1.3bn push into Africa

Barclays yesterday finalised its plan to become the largest bank in Africa, selling its operations there to its South African offshoot Absa for £1.3bn. The all-share deal will see Barclays' stake in Absa raised from 55.5 per cent to 62.3 per cent and is the final stage in a long-term plan driven by former chief executive Bob Diamond.

Sants tipped for top bank role

The former head of Britain's financial watchdog is in talks with Barclays to become the executive in charge of dealing with his old employer, according to financial industry sources. Hector Sants is on gardening leave having resigned from the Financial Services Authority, so won't be able to join the bank until 2013.

EasyJet's launch for Cornwall

No-frills airline easyJet has launched a new route to Newquay from Southend airport. A year after rival Ryanair pulled out of the Cornish airport, easyJet said it will start flying there this summer three times a week. EasyJet hopes it will attract 10,000 passengers a year.

Johnson sale clean-up

Johnson Cleaners owner Johnson Service Group has sold its Alex Reid dry cleaning business to Christeyns – a major supplier of detergent to the UK laundry market – in a £2.1m deal. Johnson will still use Alex Reidunder its new ownership.

Home prices set to stay flat

Property prices will remain flat across the UK next year as pressure builds on household finances. Halifax said prices are unlikely to rise except in London and the South-east where they will grow due to strong demand. The forecast was made as the mortgage lender reported a bounce-back in house prices as they rose 1 per cent in November.

Big Fat Gypsy TV firm is sold

Question Time and Hell's Kitchen television production company Tinopolis has acquired Firecracker Films, a producer of factual and factual entertainment programming in the UK and US, for an undisclosed sum. Its portfolio of show credits include Big Fat Gypsy Weddings for Channel 4. The sale price was reportedly around £30m.

Europe cuts growth outlook

The European Central Bank has warned that it expects output to be even worse than expected as "economic weakness extends into 2013," according to the bank's president, Mario Draghi, who expects a fall of 0.5 per cent this year. Euro interest rates of 0.75 per cent are still higher than the UK's 0.5 per cent.

New cars up a tenth on road

British new car registrations rose by 11.3 per cent on the year in November, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. There were 149,191 new registrations in November, taking the total for the year so far to 1,921,052 cars, a rise of 5.4 per cent.

Profits slide at Premier Farnell

Electronic components distributor Premier Farnell, which is based in Leeds, has reported an 18 per cent fall in underlying profits to £17.3m in the third quarter, although with cost cutting efforts and easier comparatives, analysts expect improvement.

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