The Business Matrix: Monday 21 October 2013


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The Independent Online

Central London prices soar

Average asking prices for  London properties have climbed to £544,231 – £30,000 higher than the record set in July, according to the property website Rightmove. The amount London property owners expect to get for their home climbed 10.2 per cent over the month. National asking prices rebounded 2.8 per cent to an average of £252,418.

Number of shoppers falls

The number of customers in September fell by unprecedented levels, according to the British Retail Consortium. Warm weather hit clothes sales last month as shoppers put off buying autumn fashion, sending footfall to the high street down 5 per cent compared with a year earlier. Shopping-centre visitors also dropped 2.9 per cent compared with a year ago.

What the Sunday papers said

MoD staff not consulted

The 16,500 staff in the Ministry of Defence division that buys army guns and helicopters were “not properly consulted” on plans to semi-privatise the agency, according to union leaders. The Government believes the Bristol-based Defence Equipment and Support will be run more efficiently by the private sector.

The Independent on Sunday

Vodafone in  EU battle

Vodafone is embroiled in a major battle with the European Commission over reforms that are designed to scrap mobile-phone roaming charges but which the company says are potentially illegal under competition law. However, officials in Brussels have hit back and accused Vodafone of “naked self-interest”.

The Sunday Telegraph

Qinetiq’s US division for sale

Qinetiq is set to be broken up after bosses at the former Ministry of Defence research arm put its US division up for sale. The weapons laboratory sent sale documents to potential suitors last week. Industry sources believe the sale of the American business could spark interest in the rest of Qinetiq.

The Sunday Times

Brussels targets ebook VAT

The price of ebooks is expected to plummet following a vote in Brussels this week that could cut VAT on them. In Britain printed books are free of VAT but ebooks attract 20 per cent. In other EU countries ebooks already have lower rates of VAT. In France printed books and ebooks are taxed at 5.5 per cent.

The Mail on Sunday

Spotlight on events specialists

Publishers–turned-events  specialists will be in focus this week with Informa today and UBM tomorrow. Informa  hasn’t had a great year and its healthcare business and  events arm both underperformed. But analysts at Peel Hunt think it might now be back on track.

Slowing ARM royalties?

Those clever techies who  design the microchips in your smartphones will be in the spotlight tomorrow. The Cambridge-based ARM Holdings will report its third-quarter update and analysts at Liberum Capital expect it to divulge  good licensing growth but slowing royalties.

Impressive Asos sales expected

The fashion group Asos, a  favourite with the likes of the Hollywood star Sandra Bullock, will reveal another set of  stomping numbers at its fourth-quarter results midweek. Andrew Wade at Numis, one of its house brokers, expects Asos to report a full-year pre-tax profit of £53.6m.

Vesuvius backers not set to erupt

The steel engineer Vesuvius is unlikely to cause investors to erupt on Friday when it releases its Q3 trading update. But Scott Cagehin at Numis said: “Overall, market background would suggest the company should be on track to meet full-year guidance or even [be] a touch ahead driven by higher foundry volumes.”