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The Business Matrix: Monday 30 May 2011

Lockheed fights off cyber attack

The US aerospace group aerospace group Lockheed Martin has revealed that it had to fight off a “significant and tenacious” cyber attack on its systems last week. The group detected the attack on its information-systems network just over a week ago and took “aggressive actions to protect all systems and data”. Lockheed, which makes the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, is the Pentagon’s top supplier by sales.

Conversocial signs £1.5m funding deal

The UK technology start-up Conversocial, which helps companies to manage their operations on Facebook and Twitter, is set for rapid growth this year after securing venture-capital backing. The group, which launched in July, has already signed up customers including ITV and Groupon, and has secured £1.5m funding from DFJ Esprit. It will increase staff from 10 to 25 in 2011.

LSE rules out talk of bid for LCH

The London Stock Exchange has confirmed it is not in talks to buy European clearing house LCH.Clearnet, after reports linked it with a bid. The stock market’s parent company released a statement yesterday saying it had noted the recent speculation linking it with the clearing house. But the LSE added “it is not engaged in any discussions with LCH” over a possible transaction.

Weetabix could face Justice bid

Justice Holdings, the acquisition vehicle run by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, is believed to be considering an approach for Northampton-based cereal maker Weetabix. The group was previously snapped up by private equity company Lion Capital in 2003 for £642m. Reports over the weekend suggested Mr Berggruen’s bid could value the company at up to £1bn.

G8 leaders back Lagarde for IMF

The leaders of the G8 are backing France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in her bid to run the IMF, according to her cabinet colleague Alain Juppé. He said all eight countries supported the appointment of Ms Lagarde to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has resigned after he was charged with attempted rape.

Long-term jobless soars in the UK

People out of work for more than a year in Britain has hit the highest level since 1997, according to a leading think-tank. The Institute for Public Policy Research said that 850,000 people had been unemployed for over 12 months, a figure that had reached “worryingly high” levels. The figure is up by 20,000 over recent months.

Tesco recalls exec to help UK strategy

Tesco has brought its high-flying director Tony Hoggett back to the UK from its Turkish operation, in a further sign of the grocery giant’s desire to fight back against the challenge from its domestic rivals. Mr Hoggett has been appointed as managing director of Tesco’s superstores format in the UK.

Asos expected to post £30m profit

Asos, the online fashion retailer, is expected to shrug off the gloom on the high street and post a lift in annual pre-tax profits. Analysts expect the group will post close to £30m for the year to the end of March. The performance has been bolstered this year by increased sales from its operations abroad.

UK growth could fizzle out, says BCC

A leading UK business organisation has warned the Government that the plan to reduce the Budget deficit will take longer than expected because growth will be slower than official estimates and may even “fizzle out”. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will say today the Government’s policies must be “balanced”.

Fund assets surge to €13.8 trillion

European fund managers have seen assets under management increase by more than a quarter in two years as investors shook off fears created by the financial crisis. Total assets managed in Europe stood at €13.8 trillion (£11.97 trillion) at the end of 2010, up by 26 per cent from €10.9 trillion in 2008.