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The Business Matrix: Monday 18 November 2013

Smart gifting site attracts £1.5m

Banking grandee Rupert Hambro and a clutch of Goldman Sachs investment bankers are among private investors who have put £1.5m in a new “intelligent”  gifting website.

ThePresent.co says its unique selling point is that it uses algorithms to sift users’ personal data, including their social media profiles, to make a shortlist of recommendations.

The site is aimed at “time-poor” professional people and promises to take “the angst from present shopping”.

However, The Present.co said it was not pitched at wealthy  customers, with the bulk of gift ideas under £100.

Top economist  in rate rise call

One of the City’s foremost economists will call this week for the Bank of England to lift interest rates as early as next February, assuming that the recovery continues. Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), will suggest that the Bank lifts its base rate from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent next year.

Rolls Royce wins Etihad order

British manufacturer Rolls-Royce has secured a $5bn order from Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways for Trent XWB engines to power 50 Airbus A350 aircraft. The order includes the long-term care of the engines, Rolls-Royce said. At the Dubai Airshow  yesterday, Etihad also announced orders for 87 Airbus aircraft, including 50 of the long-range A350.

What the Sunday papers said

Firms fight for Iraq investment chances

Executives from Eversheds, Foster Wheeler and BT will embark this week on the biggest British trade mission to Iraq for a decade. UK Trade & Investment wants to boost trade with the oil-rich  nation, as British companies failed to win many lucrative contracts even after its heavy involvement in deposing Saddam Hussein.  Experts estimate that Iraq needs $1 trillion (£620bn) of investment to capitalise on its potential.

Independent on Sunday

Energy suppliers ‘too profitable’

Energy companies could be “too profitable”, the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, has told The Mail on Sunday. At the same time he indicated that he expected the Government to keep the most controversial of its green levies, known as the carbon price floor, despite the review of climate taxes now under way in Whitehall. David Cameron has promised to “roll back” green levies on home energy bills.

Mail on Sunday

Saga owners eye  stock market float

Saga, the over-fifties travel agent and insurer, is set to press the button on a bumper stock market flotation. Saga’s owners have interviewed 10 investment banks  wanting to handle the share  sale. Renowned for its 2.7 million loyal customers, the company  may be valued as high as £3bn. The float looks set to rank among the largest market debuts  of 2014.

Sunday Times

Energy suppliers ‘too profitable’

Energy companies could be “too profitable”, the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, has told The Mail on Sunday. At the same time he indicated that he expected the Government to keep the most controversial of its green levies, known as the carbon price floor, despite the review of climate taxes now under way in Whitehall. David Cameron has promised to “roll back” green levies on home energy bills.

Mail on Sunday

BCC urges freeze in business rates

George Osborne should freeze business rates for two years and overhaul the “iniquitous” and “broken” tax system, a leading business group has demanded. The British Chambers of Commerce has urged the Chancellor to use his Autumn Statement to “abandon” increasing business rates until 2015 to boost the economy by helping sales and exports.

Sunday Telegraph

ITV looks to benefit from recovery and World Cup

Tomorrow the broadcaster ITV will update the City on advertising revenue. Broker Numis think its third-quarter trading update should beat forecasts. It notes that rival STV reported a third-quarter national advertising spend up 10 per cent. Numis predicts things will improve because a “stronger UK economy combined with the benefits from the World Cup” will mean a good year for advertising.

Mothercare improves but high street still tough

On Thursday mother-and-baby retailer Mothercare’s half-year results are expected to produce a profit of just under £2m – a £3m improvement on the loss reported last year and its first half-year of profit for more than two years. Numis notes it has made progress on cost-cutting and store closures, but the UK retail sector is still swamped with competition and discounting from rivals so things are not easy.

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