The Business Matrix: Monday 17 February 2014


Finance vacancies surge in January

The City jobs market sprang into life in January as confidence spread across the square mile, it has emerged.

The number of financial services vacancies rose 86 per cent to 7,623, according to the recruiter Morgan McKinley, while average salaries being offered rose 20 per cent month-on-month as the sector bounced back from a festive lull.

Credit agency goes to US buyer

The Yorkshire-based credit reference agency Callcredit has been sold to the US private equity firm GTCR.

The seller, the buyout group Vitruvian Partners, declined to reveal the terms of the deal, but it is believed to be worth more than £480m.

Vitruvian bought Callcredit in 2009 from the Skipton Building Society for an undisclosed sum.

What the Sunday papers said

Centrica profit likely to anger

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is set to reveal a profit of £2.5bn for 2013 in results that will spark further anger over price hikes by the Big Six energy suppliers. It is expected to say on Thursday that its British Gas household supply arm, which raised prices by 9.2 per cent in November, made nearly £600m profits for the period.

Independent on Sunday

Barclays searches for new chairman

Barclays – which is in the middle of a fresh row over bonuses – has hired headhunters as it starts the search for a replacement for its chairman, Sir David Walker. Although Sir David, who was given the role in August 2012 following the Libor-rigging scandal, is not likely to leave until next summer, a list of candidates is already being assembled.

The Sunday Times

Demand is strong, says Money Shop

One of the UK’s biggest payday lenders has claimed the industry is not able to keep up with demand for loans. Jeffrey Weiss, chairman of DFC Global, the owner of The Money Shop, said that in “every geography in which we operate, the consumer demand exceeds the appetite of almost all providers to meet it”.

Mail on Sunday

Retailers favour Scotland no vote

The biggest retailers in the country have expressed their opposition to an independent Scotland, according to a survey of the 33 top chairmen in the sector. The study, by the British Retail Consortium and headhunter Korn Ferry, found the bosses were “consistently negative” over the prospect.

The Sunday Telegraph

Week ahead

Hammerson may have retail reward

The City starts the week today with some retail therapy as shopping centres owner Hammerson releases its full-year results.

Investors will be awaiting news of its large developments including Les Terrasses du Port in Marseille, which is more than 90 per cent pre-let, as well as major London schemes.

Dividend hopes from hotel chain

Intercontinental Hotels is expected by Numis to report a 2013 pre-tax profit of £582m tomorrow, while the broker also expects the chain to continue to return cash to investors in the shape of a dividend. Last August IHG announced a $350m (£210m) special dividend to supplement a $500m share buyback.

Sports Direct set to report growth

Sports Direct International was in focus last month after completing a complex shares swap with the department store group Debenhams.

It has a trading update on Wednesday which is likely to show the king of cheap sportswear, founded by Mike Ashley, is still growing strongly.

Healthy growth tipped for Informa

The media and events group Informa will publish its final results at the end of the week, its first under new chief executive Stephen Carter.

Numis expects continued healthy growth for the events business and forecasts the group will report a pre-tax profit of £310m.