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The Business Matrix: Friday 8 February 2013


Battery rethink for Dreamliner

Regulators need to rethink how they approved the Boeing 787 batteries that caught fire, forcing the grounding of the entire fleet, a US safety official said. This could add more time to attempts to solve the problem. The comments came as a 787 "ferry flight" left Texas for Washington to see if any more battery problems cropped up.

Punch tries to cut £2.1bn debt pile

The embattled pubs company Punch Taverns has launched a plan to cut its £2.1bn debt pile. At present, the debt structure is split into two vehicles, Punch A and Punch B. It said it will cancel certain tranches of Punch B debt and would amend covenants in Punch A. This would cut Punch B's debt by £229m and save Punch £463m over five years.

Key brands help Dairy Crest sales

Dairy Crest said its key brands Cathedral City, Country Life, Clover and Frijj grew sales volumes by 4 per cent over the nine months to 31 December, slower than the half-year due to tougher comparatives. Its dairies business has faced difficult conditions but it has continued with initiatives designed to restore profitability.

Vodafone warns of Europe struggle

Vodafone said market conditions remained very difficult in Europe, with service revenues in the UK down by 5.2 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 due to "intense competition" and poor confidence. However, with emerging markets continuing to do well, it still expects operating profits for the year to March to be above £11bn.

Windfall for Whitbread staff

Just under 900 staff working for Whitbread – owner of Premier Inn, Costa, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre – have collectively made more than £2.8m from the annual Sharesave scheme. They doubled their original investment with the five-year option while those on the three-year scheme made about 64 per cent.

Own-label boosts profits at McBride

McBride, which supplies own-label products such as toothpaste and detergents to the UK's top supermarkets, posted a 13 per cent rise in half yearly profits to £11.6m after an improvement in margins and cost reduction measures. Sale revenues from its core products were 2 per cent higher.

Beazley profits rise fourfold

Beazley kick-started the Lloyd's of London reporting season yesterday with a fourfold rise in annual profits. The insurer said its profits hit £160m last year, up from £40m in 2011, on the back of fewer catastrophe losses. It expects to pay out $90m linked to hurricane Sandy.

Rolls-Royce gets engine go-ahead

Rolls-Royce has received airworthiness certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency for the Trent XWB that will power the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. The engines have been despatched from Derby to be prepared prior to the first flight later this year.

Playtech deal was a sound bet

The online gaming firm Playtech posted a 51 per cent rise in income, boosted by its joint venture with bookie William Hill. The gaming software specialist has a 29 per cent stake in William Hill Online, which the betting firm is planning to buy out.

Final curtain for Anglo Irish Bank

The failed Anglo Irish Bank is to be liquidated after emergency laws were rushed through the parliament on Wednesday. The bank will now cease to exist, with its debt, which had been costing Irish taxpayers €3.1bn a year, converted into a bond.