The Business Matrix: Saturday 03 December 2011



RIM writes off tablet millions

Research in Motion, the beleaguered BlackBerry maker, has written off $485m related to the poor sales of its tablet device, the Playbook. The Canadian group revealed the profit warning yesterday, sending its shares down more than 8 per cent. It admitted that it would need a further promotional drive to shift the huge numbers of unsold devices.

US jobless rate falls to 8.6% low

The US unemployment rate fell to a two-and-a-half-year low of 8.6 per cent in November and companies stepped up hiring in further evidence that the US economic recovery is gaining momentum. Non-farm payrolls increased 120,000 last month, boosted by a rise in retail jobs. The jobless rate had been expected to stay at 9 per cent.

Michael Kors to list in New York

The Hong Kong-based designer Michael Kors is preparing to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The move comes after Italian fashion house Prada listed its shares in Hong Kong earlier this year. No new money will be raised in the initial public offering, with existing shareholders selling stock instead.

Pensioners in savings victory

British pensioners have won their campaign to prevent the Irish government plundering savings held in high-yielding bonds. The Bank of Ireland has completed a £3.6bn capital raising with the backing of senior bondholders. This meant the government did not need to confiscate £46m of former Bristol & West bonds to make the target.

Brits confused about pensions

Confusion about pensions is widespread among British adults, with many failing to prepare for their retirement, according to a survey by Friends Life. Almost one in three (32 per cent) employed adults are not saving for a pension, rising to almost half (48 per cent) among under 35-year-olds.

WFEL in £57m deal with Swiss

The Stockport-based defence engineering group WFEL, which is backed by private equity house Dunedin, has secured a contract to supply £57m of tactical military bridges to the Swiss armed forces. WFEL supplies bridges to more than 40 different armed forces worldwide.

100 jobs go as Irisa trims Ann Harvey

More than 100 jobs have been axed at Irisa, the fashion group previously known as Alexon, after its new private equity owners revealed plans to close nearly a third of its high street shops. Sun European Partners has told staff that it will shut 20 of Irisa's 68 high street shops, of which many are Ann Harvey stores.

Ikea suffers 3 per cent sales fall

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea has become the latest retailer to feel the pinch as low consumer confidence and a poor housing market hit sales. The chain said like-for-like UK sales in the year to 31 August fell 3 per cent to £1.15bn. However, Ikea's market share in the UK rose to 6.3 per cent.

SDL pays £70m to secure Alterian

SDL, the UK translation group, is set to secure beleaguered marketing technology group Alterian after lifting its bid by more than a third to £68.4m. SDL tabled an 80p per share offer in October, which the Alterian board rejected "unequivocally", but it won over the board with a 110p per share offer.

Homeserve buys Veolia arm share

Homeserve is to acquire Veolia's 51 per cent share of Domeo, which has 890,000 customers and 2.3 million policies in France. The home emergency business already has 49 per cent of the business, which will still use Veolia's brands in France. Homeserve is paying £83m cash for the business.