The Business Matrix: Friday 7 March 2014


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The Independent Online

£17m for flooded coastal towns

Coastal English towns hit hardest by the recent severe flooding across the country are set to benefit from a fresh £17m in government funding for apprenticeships. In total, some 50 projects are being awarded a share of a bumper £27.7m pot which aims to support 4,000 jobs and 1,000 new apprenticeships.

Cobham hit by US defence cuts

Strained US defence budgets have hit another British manufacturer, with missile-launcher maker Cobham suffering a 38 per cent crash in full-year pre-tax profit to £127m. The 80-year-old group, Meggitt, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems are in a who's who of UK manufacturing that have been wounded by budget cuts at the Pentagon.

Prettejohn steps down from Pru

The Bank of England said Nick Prettejohn – former chief executive of Prudential UK and Europe and previously chairman of Brit Insurance – had stepped down from the board of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) with immediate effect to "pursue a future outside regulation". He joined the PRA board in June.

Photo-Me reveals a pretty picture

Photo booth operator Photo-Me International said it expects full-year profits to beat market expectations by at least £1m after a more than 80per cent jump in earnings over the November to January quarter – traditionally its slowest period. The group added that profits in the first nine months so far were around 20 per cent higher.

Marginal profit for Balfour Beatty

Cracks in the British foundations of Balfour Beatty resulted in a 78 per cent hit in pre-tax profit for the construction giant. In 2013, the 105-year-old group made just £32m from bumper revenues of more than £10.1bn – a margin of 0.3 per cent, minuscule even for an industry notorious for its slight profits.

STV prepared for either vote result

The Scottish arm of ITV said it was not worried whatever the result of September's independence referendum in Scotland. STV chief Rob Woodward said the broadcaster was "well hedged in the event of either outcome in the referendum" as it had a mix of revenues from inside and outside Scotland.

Imagination's troubles continue

Imagination Technologies' recent troubles showed no sign of letting up as it warned shipments were "behind expectations". The FTSE 250 firm, which designs graphic processors in Apple devices, admitted it also had a lower share at the cheap end of the market.

The future's steady for Orange

The mobile-phone giant Orange said it expects to hold profits steady for the first time in five years, even though it will cut dividends by a quarter. France's biggest mobile firm, which has a 50 per cent stake in Britain's EE, said it will slash costs more deeply than before.

McGeorge to leave role at New Look

The man credited with rescuing the previously debt-laden high-street fashion chain New Look has stepped down from his role as chairman. Alistair McGeorge joined three years ago to turn around the ailing business. He will leave in May.

Boom delivers a 4% rise to LSL

Britain's buoyant housing market delivered a boost to LSL Property Services as it posted a 4 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £33.9m for 2013. Its estate agency business saw a particularly strong performance in the second half.