The Business Matrix: Monday 19 August 2013


Paralympics ‘created legacy’

Two-thirds of British workers believe London 2012 created a lasting legacy for disabled employees ahead of the anniversary of the Paralympics. Nationwide Building Society research found 65 per cent of Britons believe disabled people are better recognised as being able to lead normal lives and achieve at work. A third said disabled people now face fewer barriers in work.

Business loses out on £7bn interest

British businesses are losing more than £7bn a year due to low bank interest rates and above-target inflation, new figures reveal. Interest rates on business deposits are at a record low of just 0.59 per cent, accountants UHY Hacker Young said. The amount of cash held in business accounts that offer no interest at all has also more than doubled since 2009.

What the Sunday papers said

Highways Agency eyes privatisation

The Government agency that runs and maintains 4,300 kilometres of motorways and roads worth £108bn has laid down “the first plank to privatisation”. The Highways Agency is looking for a company to help its transition from being part of the Department for Transport to a body run as a standalone company.

The Independent on Sunday

Lloyds poised to sell German arm

Lloyds Banking Group is set to sell its German insurance business for less than half the €1bn (£852m) it was worth two years ago as it continues to scale back its international operations. The taxpayer-backed lender is in talks to sell Heidelberger Leben to German insurer Hannover Re for as little as €400m. Reports two years ago suggested a potential value of at least €1bn.

The Sunday Telegraph

Shire hires Lazard as buyers circle

Drugmaker Shire has hired Lazard to beef up its team of advisers as foreign predators prepare to pounce. The appointment was thought to be prompted by a rebuffed approach earlier this year from Bristol-Myers Squibb of the US. Lazard joins existing advisers Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

The Sunday Times

Builders profits up as scheme kicks in

Housebuilders will this week reveal a surge in profits as the Government’s controversial Help to Buy scheme starts to lift sales. Persimmon and Bovis are expected to reveal first-half profits up by 33 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, partly thanks to the scheme to assist those with small deposits.

The Mail on Sunday

Lloyd’s awaits dip in Amlin results

It’s been a mixed season for Lloyd’s of London insurers – underwriting performances have been good thanks to a lack of natural catastrophes, but investment returns have been lower. Amlin, one of the largest players, reports results today. It’s set to reveal £161m pre-tax profits, compared with last year’s £185m.

BHP boss prepares for full-year results

Tomorrow will be BHP Billiton’s boss Andrew Mackenzie first full-year results, and he’s likely to be quizzed on claims of breaches of US anti-corruption law. The miner admitted it could face charges over corporate hospitality at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. BHP is also set to miss last year’s $72.2bn revenues.

STV set for  weaker profits

STV, the Scottish commercial broadcaster which makes Catchphrase and Antiques Roadshow, will unveil its half-year figures on Wednesday. Pre-tax profit is expected to be modestly lower than last year’s £7m, but investors will be wondering the dividend, suspended in 2007, will return in 2014.

Costain to shrug off merger woes

Costain is expected to shrug off the disappointment of its failed merger with May Gurney at its interim results on Thursday, with deals such as upgrading Thames Water’s network expected to have boosted its order book. Investec expects full-year profits of £22.7m, down slightly from £29.5m in 2012.