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The Business Matrix: Monday 26 November 2012

Financial firms lead the space race

Financial companies are the keenest to find office space in London for the first time since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Since the crash, technology, media and telecommunications firms had been the most on the lookout. But according to commercial estate agent DeVono, office enquiries from the financial sector were up 65 per cent in the past quarter.

HMRC turns focus on tax avoiders

Hundreds of suspected tax avoiders are to receive letters in the coming weeks warning them that their financial affairs are facing special scrutiny. HM Revenue and Customs is sending letters directly to 1,500 people whom it believes have signed up to one particular avoidance scheme. The National Audit Office said such schemes withhold more than £10bn from the UK.


What the Sunday papers say:

Howard is UK's richest hedgie

Alan Howard, co-founder of Brevan Howard, tops the newspaper's first Hedge Fund Rich List with £1.4 billion. Second is David Harding of Winton Capital Management with £900 million.

The Sunday Times

BAE mulls shutting shipyard

BAE could close one of its major shipyards in the UK. It says the future of shipbuilding in the UK is in Portsmouth, leaving two bases in Glasgow potentially vulnerable to closure.

The Sunday Telegraph

BP in Russian gas pipeline talks

BP has begun "early stage" talks with Russia's Gazprom to bring large amounts of gas into Britain via an extended pipeline from St Petersburg to Norfolk.

Mail on Sunday

HP was 'silly' not to take a closer look

Hewlett Packard was "monumentally silly" to pay $11 billion for Autonomy without taking a closer look at the company's structure and business dealings.

The Observer


The Week ahead:

UBM returns to UK as tax resident

Investors in UBM, the owner of PR Newswire and publisher of the magazine Property Week, meet today to approve plans to bring the company's tax headquarters back to London. In 2008, UBM moved to Ireland because of what it considered to be the UK's harsh tax regime. But like the chief executive of the WPP advertising behemoth, Sir Martin Sorrell, boss David Levin has decided that it is now safe to return because the Government has become more business-friendly.

A Nationwide interest in RBS

Britain's biggest mutual, the Nationwide Building Society reports its half-year results tomorrow but all eyes will be on anything chief executive Graham Beale has to say about its interest in buying 318 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland. The branches have approximately 240,000 small and medium-sized business customers which could give Nationwide a strong launchpad into this market where it has only just dipped its toe in the water.

Thomas Cook's Green gets set

Pity Harriet Green, the boss of travel agent Thomas Cook. The former Premier Farnell chief executive's first set of results in charge, out on Wednesday, should see profits slashed by half after an incredibly difficult year which raised severe doubts over the indebted group's future. Peel Hunt analyst Nicholas Batram is braced for underlying pre-tax profits of £154m for the year to September 30, only a touch more than 50 per cent of last year's £304m.

Can Dixons curry favour with City?

Sebastian James, the chief executive of Dixons Retail, will be grilled by the City on Thursday about the impact on its Currys and PC World chains of the stock liquidation sale at failed rival Comet, over the crucial Christmas trading period. Nomura forecasts the group could eventually grab about £230m of Comet's annual sales of £1bn-plus, but the present clearance sale at the collapsed 236-store chain could hurt Dixons UK over the festive period.




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