The Business Matrix: Monday 1 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Bank results

HSBC (today), Barclays (tomorrow), Lloyds Banking Group (Thursday) and Royal Bank of Scotland (Friday) are all expected to reveal a drop in profits in their first-half updates. The payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal has bruised their accounts, while debt crises in Europe and the US have scared investors away.

Aviva

Strong performances from its motor and household arms should underpin insurer Aviva's first-half results on Thursday. The numbers follow a positive trading statement for the first three months. JP Morgan expects a 5 per cent increase in profits to £1.34bn, with the non-life profit set to rise by 10 per cent to £576m, and a 7.5 per cent half-year dividend rise to 10.2p.

Taylor Wimpey

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey's sole focus will be back on the UK property market following the recent sale of its US and Canadian businesses. Analysts are also applauding the housebuilder’s focus on value on volume, which is expected to helpd the group report higher average selling prices on Wednesday despite the troubled housing market.

Bookmakers

Ladbrokes, on Thursday, and William Hill, on Friday – two of Britain's largest and oldest bookmakers – are expected to show that business has continued to be tough in the past six months. Comparisons with last year’s football World Cup are likely to hit the betting shop outlets, while May was reportedly poor across the sector on the sport results front.

Caudwell mulls private-equity fund

John Caudwell, the billionaire who made his fortune at Phones4U, is considering setting up a new venture-capital fund. Such a move would be his first new fund since he sold his remaining shareholding in the mobile-phone retailer, which was bought in a secondary buyout by BC Partners in a deal worth up to £700m in May. He has told friends he may pump some of his own cash into the fund.

Reiss commits to growing US unit

The fashion chain Reiss has reaffirmed its commitment to the US market, despite closing two stores in recent months. When it launched in 2005, Reiss vowed to have up to 100 stores in the US, but it now has just seven after it exited two shops. But the retailer said: “Reiss continues to look for new stores in US and is actively looking for further stores in New York and other cities.”

Cooper poised to abandon Laird bid

Cooper Industries appears set to withdraw its planned $875m (£532m) acquisition for its British rival Laird after both parties were unable to agree on a price for the purchase. Dublin-based Cooper upped its takeover bid to 200p from 175p on 27 July but Laird has indicated it will not agree to less than 220p.

Surge in profits at retailer Zara UK

Zara UK, the fast-fashion chain owned by the Spanish group Inditex, has bucked the downward trend on the high street by posting a sharp rise in full-year profits. The surge in the chain's performance is partly due to it reducing capital expenditure. For the year to 31 January, Zara UK grew profits to £15.8m, compared to £618,000 the previous year.

Two years before bank deals return

Big ticket banking takeovers will not return for another two years at least, as global financial groups continue to feel the pressure in the wake of the economic downturn. Mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector will be dominated by second-tier consolidation, the accountancy group KPMG said.

Thames Water basks in solar deal

A water firm is aiming to become Britain’s biggest producer and industrial user of solar power. Thames Water has agreed a deal which will lead to the installation of solar panels that will provide an annual output of more than 4,500 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, which is enough to run 970 average-sized homes.

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