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The Business Matrix: Monday 29 August 2011

La Senza considers store closures

The owner of the troubled lingerie chain La Senza is considering whether to close under-performing shops in an attempt to turn around its performance and slash costs. The private equity investor Lion Capital has sounded out retail restructuring specialists, including Hilco, about its proposals.

Sports Direct buys No Fear brand

Sports Direct, the retail empire founded by Mike Ashley, has taken control of the extreme sportswear brand No Fear after a six-month battle in the US. No Fear had been protected by American bankruptcy laws since February, but Sports Direct has now won its legal tussle to bag the brand. Sports Direct signed a joint venture in 2005 to develop No Fear outside the US and Canada.

King of Shaves may fetch up to £45m

The founder of King of Shaves, the British maker of shaving oils and razors, is in line for a windfall after receiving takeover approaches that could value the business at up to £45m, it was reported yesterday. Will King, who founded the brand from his bedroom in 1993 with £15,000, has hired Alpha Advisory to sell his company.

Administration looms for Chorion

Chorion, the media company which owns the rights to Noddy, Paddington Bear and the Mr Men, is on the verge of administration after failing to find new investors. Lenders to the private equity-owned business have lined up the Deloitte as administrators and it could collapse this week.

Drivers hang on longer to old cars

The recession is forcing motorists to keep their cars for longer and to drive more economically in an attempt to reduce their bills, a survey suggests. The number of vehicles aged 10 years or more that are taken to Halfords Autocentres for servicing has jumped by 36 per cent over the past three years.

New boss of Apple could net £235m

The new chief executive of Apple has been handed an eye-popping share award of $384m (£235m) as he prepares to take over from Steve Jobs, who resigned last week. Tim Cook has been given one million shares in the maker of the iPod. Half of these will vest in 2016 and the rest in 2021, if he remains employed at Apple.

Travel firm checks out sale of shares

The founders of Audley Travel, the upmarket holiday company, have appointed corporate finance advisers to sell a stake in the business that could value it at more than £100m. Craig Burkinshaw and John Brewer have hired the accountancy firm BDO to find fresh investment to help Audley Travel to expand overseas.

BofA eyes $10bn Chinese remedy

Bank of America is in advanced negotiations to sell more than half of its shareholding in China Construction Bank, one of the country’s biggest lenders, in a deal that would raise more than $10bn. The US company faces a capital shortfall, even though the veteran investor Warren Buffett injected $5bn into the business last week.

Corporates mind the valuation gap

A valuation gap between buyers and sellers is hampering merger and acquisitions activity, with firms completing just one in eight of the transactions considered over the past two years. Some 55 per cent of companies that sought to carry out a deal in the past year have failed to complete it, the accountant BDO also found.

Foxtons back in the black in 2010

Foxtons, the London estate agency, bounced back last year, following a torrid time during the credit crunch. The firm delivered pre-tax profits of £35.4m in the year to 31 December and management shared a £1.5m payout in its “best-ever year”, despite the struggling economy. Foxtons nearly collapsed two years ago.