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The Business Matrix: Monday 3 February 2014

Lloyds plans for women at the top

Campaigners for women in the workplace welcomed plans from Lloyds bank to increase the percentage of women in senior positions from 28 per cent to 40 per cent by 2020, adding 600 women to its top 5,000 roles. Other targets include lending to 20,000 more first-time buyers this year and increasing net lending to small and medium businesses by more than £1bn.

Companies House a ‘Wild West’

Britain’s Companies House has been branded a “Wild West” by fraud experts for its lax checks on businesses registering. It costs just £15 to register a business online directly. Traditionally, businesses would have used agents bound by money laundering regulations to demand proof of clients’ identity and addresses. More than 500,000 businesses registered in 2013.

What the Sunday papers said

Iran to sue UK over Shah’s tanks

Iran is suing a company owned by the Ministry of Defence over an order for tanks paid for but not delivered before the 1979 revolution. The Shah of Iran ordered 1,750 tanks from International Military Services for £650m but only 185 were delivered. Sanctions meant that the compensation was not paid.

The Independent on Sunday

Ed Balls’s brother gets £4.5m bonus

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’s brother has been paid a City bonus of about £4.5m. Andrew Balls is a senior executive at Pimco, the bond-trading giant, and was promoted to deputy chief investment officer last month. Accounts show he was one of seven Pimco directors to share a bonus pot of £57m in 2012.

Mail on Sunday

Retailer B&M to join stock market

The discounter B&M Retail is to join the stock market at an estimated value of £2bn. B&M is chaired by the ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy and mostly owned by the US private equity firm Clayton, Dubillier and Rice. The tycoons Simon and Bobby Arora sold most of their 60 per cent to CDR for £900m.

The Sunday Times

Ocado seeks third distribution depot

The online retailer Ocado is to look for a third distribution centre in the UK following its successful launch acting as a third-party supplier to Morrisons. Tim Steiner, co-founder and chief executive, will confirm the hunt this week when it reports annual results. A new centre could cost £200m.

The Sunday Telegraph

Week ahead

Apple woes to affect Arm

Disappointing sales growth at Apple last week gave investors in Arm Holdings something to think about before tomorrow’s fourth-quarter update. Arm designs microchips for smartphones and licenses them to Apple and others. Investec’s analysts warn that royalty revenue is likely to have weakened.

Will Ocado’s star still dazzle?

Shares in the online grocer Ocado are up more than 500 per cent since December 2012. Its full-year results tomorrow are expected to be strong, but analysts are concerned that its shares have already got ahead of themselves. Its deal to run the supermarket Morrisons’  online operation has won fans.

Hargreaves set to weather storm

When Hargreaves Lansdown, Britain’s biggest online investment broker revealed details of its 0.45 per cent annual fee for its Vantage fund this month, rivals started undercutting and there were concerns that it could lose customers, but its first-half results on Wednesday are expected to be strong.

Vodafone organic growth to ‘flatline’

By Thursday it is telecoms company Vodafone’s third-quarter results and Deutsche Bank expects organic growth to “flatline”, with a 4.9 per cent decline in organic revenue. But M&A activity is of more interest after rumoured US suitor AT&T said it did not intend to lodge a takeover bid.

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