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The Business Matrix: Monday 7th July 2014

Gymbox founder sells £10m stake

Gymbox’s founder Richard Hilton has sold a £10m stake in the fitness chain to the Business Growth Fund. The money will bring the clubs outside London for the first time. A further £7m has been raised from HSBC loans and will see a new chairman on the board.

Election worries finance officers

Chief financial officers are most worried about new policies next year’s General Election could bring, according to a new survey by Deloitte. An EU referendum and interest rate rises are also concerning but fears of another economic downturn are at two-year lows.

Free-trade deal ‘bad for workers’

A free-trade agreement between the EU and US is expected to be condemned this week as bad for workers’ rights and the environment. Unions are concerned by proposals to allow multinationals to sue countries in international arbitration courts, bypassing the law and policies of  democratically elected governments. Independent on Sunday

Blackrock reacts to Blinkx attack

Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, has stopped its London office from loaning shares to hedge funds following a suspected short-selling attack on Blinkx, the online video advertising company in which it is the biggest shareholder. Blinkx lost a third of its value in a day in January. Sunday Telegraph

Builders to give clues on boom

Has the runaway housing market kickstarted a boom in housebuilding? We’ll get a better idea this week. A quartet of housebuilders are reporting: Taylor Wimpey today, Bovis Homes tomorrow, Galliford Try come Wednesday and Barratt Developments on Thursday. Investors will be hoping for strong figures from all four.

Buy now, pay later business soaring

Buy now, pay later retailer Brighthouse, which charges up to 69.9 per cent APR on televisions and sofas, has seen sales jump 12 per cent to £333m, with pre-tax profits up 10 per cent to £52.6m. Management said 40 per cent of new business came from referrals.

UK shoppers are the most ethical

British shoppers are the most ethical in the world, according to a survey by researchers at McCann Worldgroup. More than two-thirds of Brits consider where a product comes from before buying, while only 40 per cent of French shoppers question their goods.

Revolt over £20m for Burberry chief

Burberry is facing an investor revolt over a £20m “golden handcuffs” deal for its new chief executive. Some large shareholders are thought to have concerns over the huge “no strings attached” payout for creative director and new chief executive Christopher Bailey and could vote it down at the retailer’s annual meeting later this week. Sunday Times

Chinese syndicate has eyes on Hobbs

A mystery Chinese syndicate has been circling fashion chain Hobbs and approached current owner 3i last year with a view to buying the business. The conglomerate held discussions with 3i, which bought Hobbs in 2004 for £111m, but walked away shortly before a warning the retailer had a weak Christmas. Mail on Sunday

M&S’s Bolland faces rough ride

Tomorrow brings Marks & Spencer’s AGM and first-quarter trading figures. Under-pressure chief executive Marc Bolland could be in for a rough ride. The home furnishings retailer Dunelm publishes a trading statement tomorrow, as do Polypipe and XP Power, while the pub group Young & Co holds its AGM.

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