The Business Matrix: Saturday 13 August 2011

Profits slump at Trinity Mirror

Trinity Mirror’s profits fell by 65 per cent in the first half of 2011, though it said it had since seen a circulation boost from the closure of the News of the World. Trinity – which has more than 100 regional newspapers as well as its flagship Daily and Sunday Mirror titles – saw sales drop by 2.9 per cent to £371m. Profits slumped from £84.8m to £28.9m.

OFT ends probe into sportswear

The sportswear rivals JJB Sports and Sports Direct were given a lift yesterday after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) decided to close its long-running probe into alleged price fixing. The inquiry began in January 2009, when JJB turned whistleblower by approaching the watchdog, but has now been provisionally closed.

Disney intern’s boyfriend charged

The boyfriend of a former Walt Disney intern faces insider dealing charges. The US Securities and Exchange Commission accused Toby Scammell of using price-sensitive information that he had overheard his intern girlfriend talking about in order to profit from Disney’s takeover of the comic book company Marvel in 2009.

Row over lending to small business

Business groups have claimed banks are not supporting small enterprises, despite figures showing lenders edging towards lending targets. The Bank of England said the big banks were on track to hit their “Project Merlin” targets, but the British Chambers of Commerce said many firms still did not have the confidence to apply for finance.

French economy at a standstill

France’s financial woes got even worse yesterday with official data showing that the country’s economy has ground to a halt. French economists had expected Insee, the state statistics agency, to announce GDP growth of 0.2 per cent for the three months to the end of June. But the actual figure was zero.

British Gas ends doorstep selling

British Gas is to stop doorstep selling after consumer groups claimed the practice puts pressure on people to switch to worse deals. The energy giant employs 300 staff who cold-call at homes, but said they will stop knocking on doors for three months while it finds other ways to sell its products.

Bahamas Petrol loses CEO Crevello

Paul Crevello, the chief executive officer of Bahamas Petroleum, has quit the oil and gas exploration company with immediate effect for personal reasons. Steve Weyel, a non-executive director, will support Paul Gucwa, the company’s chief operating officer, while a replacement is sought.

BHP faces strikes in Queensland

Two coal mines in Australia operated by BHP Billiton will be hit by industrial action by union workers this weekend ahead of meetings next week over a new labour agreement, a union official said yesterday. Rolling 12-hour work stoppages are set for the Gregory and Blackwater collieries in Queensland.

Enquest profits rise in North Sea

Enquest, the North Sea-focused oil company, posted a 145 per cent hike in profits yesterday as rising oil prices boosted its bottom line over the first half of the year. Profits before tax and net finance costs climbed to $215.2m (£132.2m) in the six months to the end of June, up from just under $90m last year.

Goldfields close to Greek production

The London-listed mining company European Goldfields, which secured a long-awaited Greek permit last month, posted a narrower pre-tax loss for the second quarter yesterday and said it had made “major progress” with its Olympias project, on track for first production next year.