The Business Matrix: Friday 9 August 2013


Ladbrokes is hit by heatwave

The heat and dwindling growth at games machines in Ladbrokes’ betting shops saw pre-tax profits for the first half halve to £55.1m. July’s heatwave hammered the bookie at the start of the second half, sending betting shops visits down by up to 15 per cent. Dry weather cut the number of runners, meaning a higher percentage of winning favourites.

Rio Tinto pulls Pacific sale

Rio Tinto has been forced to withdraw the sale of its loss-making Pacific Aluminium, having failed to find a buyer. The mining giant also revealed an 18 per cent fall in first-half profits, as commodity prices, with the exception of iron ore, dropped. Chief executive Sam Walsh said: “We need to do more to improve performance and returns.”

Big fare for GetTaxi as it heads to NYC

Black cabs app GetTaxi raised another $12m (£7.8m) as it prepares to go head-to-head with battle rival Hailo for the custom of New Yorkers. The Israeli start-up’s fundraiser brings the total raised to  $42m. Already competing with Hailo in London, GetTaxi is - like its rival - hoping to crack the Big Apple, launches in New York this weekend.

Sunny boost for Enterprise

Good summer weather helped Enterprise Inns’ 6000 pubs to move back into growth in the past five weeks. Although the pubs giant still does not expect overall growth for the financial year, which ends next month, due to the harsh winter it is now optimistic that the final quarter will show an improvement. It has sold 356 pubs this year.

Schroders’ fund boost for Dean

Julie Dean, the fund manager who last month took over the running of Schroders UK Growth Trust following the departure of Richard Buxton, grew her existing Cazenove UK Opportunities from £1.6bn to £2.5bn in the first half. That’s far more than the £250m Buxton has pulled in at his new firm, Old Mutual.

HR Owen dismisses bid

The Asian bidder for HR Owen is not high-end enough, the luxury car dealership said as it dismissed the takeover approach as “derisory”. HR Owen – whose first-half profits rose 23.2 per cent – said Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Philippines was only experiencd in high-volume, commercial vehicles.

US still hungers for a Big Mac

Big Mac sales in the US helped McDonald’s offset declines elsewhere last month. The world’s biggest burger chain said global sales in July rose 0.7 per cent at restaurants open at least 13 months, including a 1.6 per cent increase in the US, where it was boosted by “value offerings”.

Stanley Gibbons toasts monarchy

Monarchists and investors looking beyond the banks’ paltry saving rates will trigger a boom in Prince George collectables in the coming six months, according to Stanley Gibbons, the rare stamps, medals and coins dealer. In the first half, Gibbons’ sales rose 17 per cent to £17.2m.

Cobham faces US market pain

Defence manufacturer Cobham said a sluggish US defence and security market drove pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year down 3 per cent to £137m. But Cobham, based in Wimborne, Dorset, said it is winning more aviation services.