The Business Matrix: Monday 25 April 2011

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The Independent Online

Mamut nears £35m Waterstone’s deal

HMV and Alexander Mamut are nearing a £35m deal that will result in the Russian billionaire taking control of Waterstone’s, according to reports. The struggling high street retailer confirmed last month it could dispose of its book-selling chain.

Murray attacks Britain’s economy

Simon Murray, the chairman of Glencore, described Britain as “economically absolutely shambolic” in an interview with a Sunday newspaper. Mr Murray was appointed earlier this month ahead of the commodities trader’s planned flotation in May.

Staff exodus at FSA ahead of break-up

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) lost, on average, one employee every day in the past year, in a near doubling of departures ahead of the planned breakup of the City watchdog. Figures obtained by The Independent revealed that 352 employees left their jobs at the FSA over the past 12 months.

SMEs optimistic over recovery

The UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are showing renewed optimism about the economic recovery, new research shows. According to a DHL survey, 61 per cent of SMEs expect sales growth this year.

Family Investments reports £3m profit

Family Investments’ assets under management grew by nearly 45 per cent last year. The mutual organisation banked an operating profit of £3m while its membership rose to 1.75 million. As well as record sales of its child trust fund accounts, the company said the popularity of its Isas also contributed to its growth.

Scrap failing Isas, says think-tank

Individual Savings Accounts (Isas) have failed to encourage savers, particularly among the “squeezed middle”, and should be scrapped, claims a damning report published today. According to research by the Institute for Public Policy Research, less than a third of families with a weekly income under £600 hold an Isa.

GM chief warns UK over parts scarcity

The head of Vauxhall has warned that the UK car industry faces serious problems because of a scarcity of parts manufacturers in Britain. Nick Reilly, the chief executive of General Motors in Europe, said the lack of components being made in the UK has made it “more difficult ... to be competitive”. He told the BBC: “Frankly, I think it’s the most critical issue facing the automotive industry in the UK.”

Jaguar plans UK engine plant

Jaguar Land Rover is understood to be considering building a new engine plant in the UK, which could see more than 1,000 new jobs created. The car-maker is reportedly mulling over three sites for the plant – South Wales, Wolverhampton and a location in India. The Indian group Tata Motors, which bought it in 2008 from Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, may announce its final decision as early as next month.

All Saints deal given deadline

All Saints could face administration unless a rescue buy-out deal is completed by Tuesday evening, according to reports. The retail chain is understood to be involved in discussions with Lloyds Banking Group over finding potential buyers of the holdings in the company owned by the Icelandic banks Kaupthing and Glitnir. All Saints was not available for comment.

Alokozay plans to buy Afghan bank

The Dubai-based conglomerate Alokozay Group has revealed it is in the process of gaining approval to enter Afghanistan’s banking sector. Jalil Alokozay, the chief executive of the company’s Afghan operations, said it believed there was “great potential” in the country and that it wanted to “bring in professionals and set up a bank that’s basically recognised worldwide”.

Beijing expects inflation to dip

A Chinese official has said inflation is expected to dip slightly in the second half of the year. However, Xu Lianzhong, a director at the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Xinhua news agency that the government’s ceiling of a rise of 4 per cent for the full year was unlikely to be met.

Vietnam consumer prices rise 17.5 %

Vietnam revealed yesterday that its inflation has risen at its fastest pace since 2008. According to official figures, consumer prices grew by 17.5 per cent in the year to April, despite recent attempts by the state bank to regain control through a number of interest-rate increases and devaluations of the currency, the dong.

Lisbon revises budget deficit

Portugal has for a second time revised upward its budget deficit last year, releasing figures that said it was 9.1 per cent of gross domestic product instead of the previously announced 8.6 per cent. The revision is another setback as its government negotiates the terms of a bail-out in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.

Tokyo makes imports plea

Japan has asked South Korea and China to adopt a more “reasonable” policy on importing goods in the wake of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima. The Japanese trade minister, Banri Kaieda, made the request at a meeting in Tokyo.