The Business Matrix: Saturday 11 February 2012


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The Independent Online


New Comet owner axes 450 workers

Comet, the beleaguered electricals chain, is to axe at least 450 repair and support staff just days after it was bought by private equity group OpCapita for a token £2 from Kesa. Bob Darke, the 248-store retailer's chief executive, said that significant savings were required to secure its long-term viability.

Flybe revenues stall after warning

The airline Flybe's UK passenger revenues have fallen in the four months since October. Europe's biggest regional airline said UK sales were down 0.3 per cent on a year ago to £133.7m. Last month, Flybe issued a profits warning – its third in eight months – after a sharp decline in passengers on internal UK flights.

Oil spike sends factory prices up

A sudden rise in crude oil prices pushed up manufacturers' costs in January, giving the Bank of England a fresh inflation warning after it voted to pump an extra £50bn into the struggling UK economy. Oil accounted for almost all of the 0.5 per cent rise in manufacturers' input costs during the month.

Phoenix talks end as bidder flies off

Shares in Phoenix, the life insurer formerly known as Pearl, fell sharply after talks on a takeover by private-equity company CVC ended when the pair failed to agree a price. The pair had been in protracted bid talks since November, highlighting the difficulties in reaching an agreement.

Panama hat trick scuppers CWC

Shares in Cable & Wireless Communications' tumbled 17 per cent after a triple-whammy profit warning on Panama. It flagged tough competition in Panama's mobile market, a failure to win new corporate contracts and falling profit margins.

Mirror loses a female director

Trinity Mirror has replaced one internet savvy non-executive director with another. Laura Wade-Gery, Marks & Spencer's multi-channel boss, is stepping down in favour of Donal Smith, chief executive of software company Data Explorers. The ex-FT executive was a director of failed dot-com start-up eCountries.

Shock Europe loss dents Tata Steel

Tata Steel gave a nasty glimpse of just how bad things are looking in Europe as the steel giant reported a surprise quarterly loss. The group, for which Europe accounts for about two-thirds of production, reported a loss of 6.03 billion rupees (£77m) in the final three months of 2011 due to weak demand.

Weir primes its takeover pump

Weir Group, the FTSE100 pump manufacturer, revealed yet more appetite for acquisitions yesterday when it made an A$294million (£200m) hostile takeover bid for an Australian mining equipment maker. Weir's A$7.92-a-share approach for Ludowici is 10 per cent higher than that of Danish rival FLSmidth.

Domain name group nets £9m

An AIM-listed firm that sells website addresses has raised £9m from investors. Top Level Domain Holdings claimed the fundraising was signficantly oversubscribed. Top Level Domain plans to use the cash to buy up domain names with suffixes such as .radio, .food and .Sheffield and .London.

IEA: Demand for oil will fall further

Demand for oil will grow by less than 1 per cent in 2012 as economic weakness bites in the West, the International Energy Agency said, cutting its forecasts for a sixth straight month. It said daily demand will grow by 800,000 barrels, 250,000 down on its previous estimates.