The Business Matrix: Monday 18 February 2013


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The Independent Online

Ashley sets sights on expansion

On Thursday, shareholders are expecting Sports Direct's Mike Ashley to make the headlines. He denied he is still in talks for a stake in department store House of Fraser but he is certainly still on the expansion trail to add to his house of brands that include Dunlop, Slazenger, Lonsdale and Firetrap.

Hotel chain is one to check into

Tomorrow InterContinental Hotels posts results. Liberum Capital's scribblers think the sale of InterContinental's New York Barclay and London Park Lane hotels will bring in $830m this year. The sale of the Big Apple asset has been a little slow but London's chances are better.

RusPetro issue on back burner

Today, investors were supposed to be voting at RusPetro's EGM to approve its bond issue. But the oil group had to pull the planned $350m (£225m) issue and has postponed the sale. The small-cap explorer said it would "consider recommencing the offering at a later date". Analysts have reduced their outlook.

Big Four to lose grip on auditing

The Competition Commission is set to crack the stranglehold that PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte have on auditing listed British companies. The inquiry chairman could recommend a form of "mandatory rotation", which would see companies forced to axe an auditor after a set number of years. Independent on Sunday

Britain's credit rating at risk

The UK's perfect credit rating will come under scrutiny this week, as the deficit still proves to be out of control. Figures are expected to show the deficit running £10bn over target. All the major credit rating agencies have put the UK on "negative outlook", so any more disappointing numbers could force them to make a downgrade. The Mail on Sunday

Death insurer eyes £1bn flotation

A UK insurer offering high-cost insurance to people whose life expectancy has been cut by illness is looking to sell shares in London this summer. Sources said Partnership Alliance's owner, private-equity group Cinven, has appointed Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to lead a listing that could be worth about £1bn. The Sunday Times

Tesco boss urges Cameron on India

The Prime Minister has been asked by Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke to press his opposite number in India to help overseas firms invest there. David Cameron is on a trade mission to India to improve ties with Britain. Mr Clarke wants to launch branches under the Tesco brand in India, but the law only allows joint ventures with local partners. The Sunday Telegraph

Met on the hunt for new directors

The Met Office is looking to overhaul its board with three new non-executive directors. The country's National Weather Office sees non-executive directors Sir Brian Hoskins, Paul Rew and Mike Goodfellow reach the end of their fixed-term contracts this year. One of the ways the Met is looking to grow is by selling more of its products and services overseas.

City of London Group's legal fight

City of London Group is thought to have racked up more than £400,000 in a legal fight. The investment group bought PR firm Lothbury out of administration for £91,000 in 2010 but did not get all the clients it thought it would. Lothbury Financial Services, a separate company but with the same directors as the PR firm, successfully argued in court that it owns these disputed assets.

Investors braced for M&C hotels

On Friday, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels posts numbers and analysts at Panmure Gordon believe Singapore and London revenues will be weak. They rate the stock a sell with a target of 353p. Panmure forecasts 2012 pre-tax profit to come in at £151.6m.