The Business Matrix: Saturday 10 March 2012


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The Independent Online


Olympics paves Marshalls' gains

Paving London ahead of the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee helped blocks and flagstones group Marshalls to push profits up by a third last year. It has already delivered well over five million paving blocks to the Olympic centre. Its largest project is the Northern spectator transport mall.

African premium helps Old Mutual

The Old Mutual financial conglomerate posted a 17 per cent jump in profits for 2011 on the back of cost cuts and strong growth at its Nedbank lending operation in South Africa. The Anglo-South African insurance, banking and asset management business reported an operating profit of £1.61bn in 2011.

Wetherspoons dilutes growth

Value-for-money pubs chain JD Wetherspoon is to open 10 fewer pubs this year than previously hoped, 40 rather than 50. Chairman Tim Martin is also taking a close look at his longer-term expansion plans. He has 841 pubs and thinks he could one day have 1600, but is no longer so sure this goal is attainable.

LSE in the clear with £387m deal

The London Stock Exchange has struck a deal to buy up to a 60 per cent stake in clearing house LCH. Clearnet in the biggest deal since its attempt to merge with the Toronto stock exchange was blocked last year. The LSE will pay up to €463m (£387m) for a full 60 per cent stake.

Africa powers up Aggreko profits

A thirst for power from Africa, Japan and the London 2012 Olympics has given generators giant Aggreko the courage to spend £350m on its fleet this year. That's £30m more than it had planned, and comes after what chief executive Rupert Soames called a "not-entirely shabby performance last year".

Industry drop ups recession worry

A shock blow for Britain's industrial sector in January put the risk of a double-dip recession back on the table yesterday, strengthening the case for more money printing from the Bank of England. Despite stronger survey evidence, figures showed a 0.4 per cent drop in industrial output during January.

London land prices soar

The price of land in central London soared almost a fifth last year in a dramatic bounce-back from the post-Lehmans slump. The value of residential development land rose 3.2 per cent in the last quarter and 20.3 per cent over 2011 as a whole, according to agents Knight Frank.

Recruiter held back in Britain

The UK jobs market is holding back SThree, the white-collar recruiter. Its consultants outside of Britain and Ireland saw a 24 per cent increase in gross profit to £31m in the first three months of 2012 compared to the previous quarter. But on home turf, its net profit fell by 7 per cent to £16.7m.

American jobs market ahead

The US jobs market forged ahead last month as the recovering health of the world's biggest economy painted a stark contrast with record unemployment in the eurozone. Closely watched non-farm payrolls figures showed US employers adding 227,000 jobs during the month.