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The Business Matrix: Monday 29 April 2013

ENRC braced for fraud office probe

A Serious Fraud Office investigation into corruption at Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation will scrutinise allegations, including “payments to African presidents, $35m of “misappropriated” cash and “document destruction”. The claims, which ENRC denies, were made in a letter sent by law firm Dechert to the miner after it was sacked last month

Sunshine boosts spending in April

The warmer weather that finally arrived last month drove an 8.5 per cent rebound in consumer spending in the second week of April, according to data from Barclaycard. Dave Chan, the chief executive of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said: “We are seeing signs that shoppers are responding to the warmer weather, which will be welcome news to retailers.”

What the Sunday Papers said

National Grid in pensions furore

Unions have accused National Grid of “North Korean-style sabre-rattling” as the operator of Britain’s biggest electricity and gas transmission networks risks industrial action to tackle a £1bn pensions deficit. National Grid says more than 5,600 workers might see the terms  of their lucrative final-salary pension schemes changed.

The Independent on Sunday

Lloyds plans to pay dividend

Antonio Horta-Osorio, the chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, has opened the door to a return to dividends as he prepares to reveal the bank’s net lending to UK businesses has increased for the first time since the global credit crisis. A dividend would be the first since late 2008.

The Sunday Telegraph

US fund raids Invensys shares

The engineer Invensys is braced for a fresh takeover bid after a raid on its shares by the American hedge fund Value Act Capital. It has built a stake of just over 8 per cent and it is now the second-biggest shareholder. Emerson Electric, a US rival, and France’s Schneider Electric were likely bidders, according to City sources.

The Sunday Times

M&S boss looked at bid for Jaeger

The retail giant Marks & Spencer has considered buying fashion label Jaeger as a way to boost its fashion brands. The chief executive, Marc Bolland, looked at a bid last year when Jaeger ran into difficulty. It was eventually snapped up by private equity group Better Capital for a knock-down £20m. 

The Mail on Sunday

The Week Ahead

Greene King’s weather gloom

The pub and brewing group Greene King makes a trading statement today and Douglas Jack at Numis expects brewing profits to be down 14 per cent, which he thinks is a “positive result under the circumstances” of “snow in January and cold weather in February and March”.

Asos to update on global progress

The online fashion retailer Asos’s half-year update tomorrow should reveal details of its expansion into Russia and China as well as progress on projects such as mobile and tablet sales and local language sites. Numis’s retail expert Andrew Wade expects it to report a pre-tax profit of about £27m.

Weir undeterred by oil price fall

The oil services engineer Weir Group is not letting the falling oil price faze it. It has been upping its exposure to the mining and minerals market with agreements totalling £750m. Weir reports on first-quarter trading on Wednesday. Jefferies analysts  say “the business is robust and long-term upside remains”.

Struggle goes on at RBS

On Friday, Royal Bank of Scotland updates on the first quarter. Ian Gordon at Investec thinks that “despite five years of heavy losses between 2008-2012” he still expects only “a weak attributable profit of £0.1bn”. He forecasts the core pre-tax profit of £1.8bn but non-core to have lost £0.6bn.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?