The Business Matrix: Monday 27 August 2012


Unicredit sucked into sanctions row

The Italian bank Unicredit has been dragged into the Iran sanctions-busting scandal that saw Standard Chartered settle with New York authorities at the cost of $340m (£217m) earlier this month. Yesterday, the Italian bank admitted that it was co-operating with the US over an investigation into a possible breach of sanctions, though it did not name the country involved. Unicredit's German subsidiary, HypoVereinsbank, is at the centre of the probe.

House prices dip for second month

National house prices have fallen for the second month in a row in August, pushed down by a static London market that had previously been on the up in 2012. Hometrack's monthly house price index, published today, offers a gloomy outlook for property prices, with predictions of further downward pressure on values in the months ahead.

Bidders to vie for borders IT deal

The Government is poised to re-tender its hugely contentious e-Borders immigration IT system, which is attracting the interest of groups such as BT and Capita. The move comes two years after Raytheon, a US-based contractor, was sacked after the programme fell behind schedule. The system is considered vital for border security and stamping out illegal immigration, as it counts every person who enters and leaves the UK.

Independent on Sunday

Rule change to hit financial advisers

More than 3,000 independent financial advisers could go out of business ahead of sweeping reforms to the industry on 1 January. Advisers will have to pass tough exams and change the payment structures they charge to banks and insurers for selling products. The Retail Distribution Review will ban sales commission, which is expected to wipe out least a 10th of the UK's 28,000 financial advisory firms almost immediately.

Sunday Times

Qatar poised to raise Xstrata stake

Qatar Holding is looking to double its stake in Xstrata to 25 per cent, should the commodities trader Glencore fail in its attempt to merge with the mining giant. The investment arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund is demanding improved terms from Glencore if it is to vote through the merger. Qatar already has a sufficient stake to effectively veto the deal, though Glencore's boss, Ivan Glasenberg, is resisting calls to increase his offer.

Sunday Telegraph

Retail chief urges rethink on tax

Ian Cheshire, boss of B&Q, has called on the Government to ease the tax burden on small and medium-sized firms. The new chairman of the British Retail Consortium, the industry's lobbying group, wants "a more nuanced approach" from government and said that the Coalition should look to restart the housebuilding programme. Mr Cheshire described the past few months as being "unbelievably awful" for the economy.

Mail on Sunday