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The Business Matrix: Monday 23 June 2014

Oil on agenda in Middle East tour

The US Secretary of  State John Kerry is set to discuss possible oil disruptions from the Iraq conflict with Gulf countries this week, according to State Department officials. Mr Kerry, who arrived in Egypt yesterday at the start of a tour of countries in the Middle East and Europe, is also expected to travel to Iraq soon at the request of President Barack Obama.

Morrisons raises stakes in price war

Morrisons has fired the latest salvo in a growing supermarket price war, launching another round of cuts on 135 products today. The UK’s fourth-largest grocer has already promised to spend £1bn on price cuts over the next three years. Falling food prices thanks to the  supermarket competition helped inflation last week to hit a four-and-a-half-year low.

What the Sunday papers said

IT problems hit probation plans

The probation service is in  crisis as a result of IT changes ahead of a semi-privatisation later this year. Contractors such as Sodexho and Amey are bidding to run 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies, which oversee medium and low-risk offenders. But the IT glitches have resulted in lost and  inaccessible case files.

The Independent on Sunday

Shire seeks to fend off US raider

Shire has detailed how it plans to double sales to $10bn (£6bn) by 2020 as the British drugs group tries to fend off unwelcome offers from the pharma giant AbbVie. The US group, which is looking to take advantage of lower UK tax rates as well as Shire’s drugs’ pipeline, has had three approaches worth up to £27bn rejected, it emerged last week. 

The Sunday Times

Carney urged to curb mortgages

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, should act quickly to curb mortgage lending, according to regulators at the Norwegian and Swedish central banks. The Governor is expected to unveil measures later this week to cool the mortgage market when the Bank publishes its Financial Stability Report.

 The Sunday Telegraph

Cap on mortgages to trap borrowers

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners could end up as “mortgage prisoners” if caps on income multiples are introduced by regulators. The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee is due to outline measures to cool the housing market this week amid fears of  a bubble in London.

The Mail on Sunday


The transport giant Stagecoach, whose Virgin Trains joint venture won an extension to its West Coast mainline franchise last week, is expected to report a 5 per cent rise in full-year profits to £180m on Wednesday,  according to Investec. The group operates 8,000 buses serving 2.5 million people a day, as well as South West Trains.


Executive chairman Lord Harris of Peckham will present his last set of annual results on Tuesday at the retailer he founded 25 years ago. The business, which warned over profits for the third time in nine months in March after admitting it has yet to benefit from the housing market recovery, is expected to post profits of £4.5m, against £9.7m a year ago.

Dixons Carphone

Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail, the mobile phone and electronics retail giants, are expected to reveal more details of their £3.6bn merger to create Dixons Carphone when they both post full-year results on Thursday. Expect Carphone’s earnings to be up 9 per cent at £150m, while Dixons has said its profits should be at the top of City forecasts of £150m-£160m.


A strong pound and supply chain problems are expected to weigh on the Airfix-to-model trains company Hornby once again when new chief executive Richard Ames unveils full-year results on Friday. Hornby warned in April it was on course to post a £1m loss. Its supply chain problems involve a major model railway manufacturer in China, with which it has cut ties.

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