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The Business Matrix: Monday 9 January 2012

Panmure seeks sale to Cenkos

Panmure Gordon it hoping to sell itself to rival Cenkos. The stock broker has seen its shares crash as business dried up. Chief executive, Tim Linacre, said in November that he would quit, a move that may have prompted takeover talks. Panmure is valued by the stock market at £15m. It will be hoping to secure rather more than that in any deal.

Confidence falls among directors

More than half of Britain's top business people expect the economy to get worse over the next 12 months. Less than 10 per cent believe there will be some improvement, according to the Captains of Industry survey by pollsters Ipsos Mori. The technology, media and telecoms sectors have the greatest potential for growth, say directors.

Retail footfall is springing back

Springboard – the retail footfall provider monitoring 85 UK town centres – reports high streets had a -1.1 per cent drop in footfall in 2011 compared to -3.5 per cent in 2010. Despite year-round negative news from retailers, footfall on high streets fell at the lowest rate in five years. This suggests retail decline is bottoming out.

Morrisons eyes up Best Buy stores

Morrisons is in talks to buy the 11 superstores that US electricals giant Best Buy is vacating. The supermarket wants to take charge of the stores and convert them into Kiddicare stores. It has bought the baby equipment retailer for £70m. Best Buy is quitting the UK, having seen its venture with Carphone Warehouse to sell electrical goods flop.

Banks hoard cash at record levels

Banks are hoarding cash at record levels, figures from the European Central Bank show. A massive £375bn was left on deposit at the ECB at the end of last week, the highest ever. That is seen as a sign of how fearful banks are that rivals are unsound and may go bust.

Bristol-Myers buys hep C specialist

The US pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb is buying Inhibitex, a company specialising in hepatitis C treatments, for $2.5bn (£1.6bn). Inhibitex has been focusing on development of nucleotide medicines. Its main product under development, INX-189, has shown potent antiviral abilities, according to experts.

Tesco

The country's biggest supermarket, with 2,700 UK stores, is set to update the market on Christmas trading on Thursday. Analysts at Deutsche Bank have pencilled in an "accelerated" decline of 2 per cent in Tesco's UK underlying sales for the six weeks to7 January, compared with a 0.9 per cent drop in its third and second quarters.

Marks & Spencer

Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley may have brought Hollywood glamour to M&S's Christmas ads but its clothing sales are expected to lack sparkle. The high street bellwether is set to post a 1.5 per cent decline in quarterly sales of clothing and homeware on Tuesday, but overall numbers will likely be buoyed by higher food sales.

Debenhams

Debenhams will reveal whether its heavy price cutting paid off when it publishes its first-quarter update on Tuesday. The group, which slashed prices by up to 40 per cent in a week-long promotion in November, is also expected to have been supported by its online business, which is estimated to have seen growth of 45 per cent.

Mothercare

Supermarkets and online rivals are expected to have continued to steal business from Mothercare over Christmas. The group is expected to have seen sales fall another 9 per cent in its second half of its financial year. This is despite easier December comparatives with a year ago when Arctic weather kept shoppers from its out-of-town stores.

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