The Business Matrix: Friday 7 October 2011

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The Independent Online

BA closes key OpenSkies route

OpenSkies, BA’s business-class subsidiary is to close flights between Paris-Orly and Washington DC-Dulles airports at the end of October, just 18 months after the route was launched. BA said it would close the five times a week service between the capitals of France and the US, leaving the operator with one route, from Paris to Newark.

Mouchel chief executive quits

Mouchel’s chief executive, Richard Cuthbert, quit yesterday in the wake of an accounting error that forced a profit warning, and the resulting sell-off wiped off a third off the services company’s value. Mr Cuthbert tendered his resignation in a shock announcement three weeks before it was due to release its full-year results.

New car sales fall in September

The volume of UK car sales fell in the crucial month of September, dealing a fresh blow to hopes for an economic recovery. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported that 332,476 new cars were registered in the UK in September, a drop of 0.8 per cent on 2010. The month typically accounts for 17 per cent of annual sales.

Axis-Shield to be bought for £235m

The medical diagnostics firm Axis-Shield has agreed to a £235m takeover by Alere after the larger rival improved its offer. Axis-Shield, which makes the Afinion devices, is to recommend shareholders accept the 470p a share bid. This is 2 percent up on Alere’s initial offer and a 4 per cent premium to the closing price on Wednesday.

Coutts to target Asia and Russia

Coutts, the private banking arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, is to focus its efforts more closely on wealthy individuals in Asia, Russia and the Middle East, it said yesterday. Rory Tapner, the chief executive of Coutts, said it planned to scale back its presence in African and Latin American regions.

Growth fund picks up maiden stake

A fund set up to help smaller companies had made its first investment. The Business Growth Fund, an independent company backed by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Standard Chartered, said it was ploughing £4.2m in to Benefex, an online employee reward and benefits provider.

Services output higher over July

Output in the key service sector was slightly higher in July, according to official figures published yesterday. The Office for National Statistics said the sector, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the UK economy, had edged up by 0.2 per cent; in June it had contracted by 0.3 per cent.

Slowdown in UK productivity

Labour productivity in the three month period from April to June was unchanged from the first quarter of the year, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. But output per worker over the second quarter was 0.2 per cent down on the year, the first move into negative territory since 2009.

Gulfsands has to cutbackin Syria

Gulfsands Petroleum announced its second substantial cut in oil production in a fortnight yesterday as the Syria-focused producer reels from the sanctions imposed on the country by the US and the EU. The Aim-listed company said the government had told it to cut production by more than half.

Exillon strikes oil again in Russia

Exillon Energy has struck oil at a well in Russia it intends to connect to existing production facilities in West Siberia after testing. The oil producer’s shares jumped 23 per cent on the London Stock Exchange, valuing it at £378m. Exillon struck oil at another well in the same area last month.

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