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The Business Matrix: Monday 21 November 2011


CVC in talks to buy Phoenix

CVC Capital Partners, the private equity owner of Formula One, is in talks to buy the Phoenix insurance group for an estimated £1.2bn. The insurance group, formerly known as Pearl, and once run by Pizza Express founder Hugh Osmond, said it had received several approaches for its business. It named CVC as a suitor for the first time.

Arcadia profits set to fall by a third

In a sign of just how tough conditions are on Britain's high streets, Sir Philip Green is expected to report this week that his retail empire has seen its profits slump by about a third. The Arcadia group, which includes the Topshop brand, is to report a pre-tax profit of between £140m and £150m for the year to the end of August.

John Lewis gives mixed signals

John Lewis gave some cause for Christmas cheer yesterday, revealing that its sales last week reached £85.2m, an increase of 11.6 per cent over the previous seven days. However, the department stores chain took the edge off things by revealing that sales were still 3.2 per cent lower than in the same week last year.

City pay jumps an average of 12 %

Average base pay in the City jumped by 12 per cent to £83,000 in the year to 30 September, according to Astbury Marsden, the financial-services recruitment firm. Managing directors' pay saw the biggest jump, rising by 21 per cent to £237,000 during the period. The rises came despite the eurozone crisis.

Google reports soaring app use

Google Chrome users are now downloading millions of web apps a day, as the group's app store comes up to the first anniversary of its launch. Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, senior product manager for Chrome, said he was "delighted" with the progress of the web store, which offers apps from news and retail companies.

IOD calls for pension delay

Business leaders will today urge the Government to postpone next year's introduction of automatically enrolling workers in pension schemes, saying it was the "wrong time" for the move. The Institute of Directors (IOD) said the current plan to start phasing in auto-enrollment from next October should be delayed for two years.

Mitchells & Butlers

Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers will cap a troubled year in the boardroom when it reports a drop in profits in its annual results on Tuesday. The group, which is on its second interim chief executive, has struggled with weak trade and is expected to report a 12 per cent fall in annual pre-tax profits to £154m.

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook is set to report a slide in annual profits on Thursday after unrest in North Africa and plummeting consumer confidence battered sales at the holiday giant. The tour operator is set to post a 31 per cent slide in profits to £191m in a year which has seen numerous profits warnings and the exit of its CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

United Utilities

Supplying water to 7 million people in the North-west, United Utilities is expected to record a 5.8 per cent drop in profits to £185m on Wednesday. United has seen revenues rise in the first half of its financial year as tariffs track inflation, but this has been offset by rising costs as a result of higher spending on infrastructure.

Dixons Retail

Dixons Retail, which owns Currys and PC World, is expected to reveal further sales declines and widening first-half losses on Thursday after a bitter price war with rivals. The City expects underlying first-half losses to have widened to between £29m and £35m, compared with £6.9m a year ago, mainly as a result of dire trading in Italy and Greece.

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