The Business Matrix: Saturday 14 February 2015


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Soros to challenge Argentine freeze

Bondholders including George Soros’s hedge fund are preparing to challenge last year’s US court freeze on all interest due on Argentine debt, after the High Court ruled English law applies to the part of the debt that is denominated in euros. US vulture funds forced the country to default on its debt last year.

Air Lingus board supports IAG bid

Aer Lingus’s board reiterated its support for British Airways-owner IAG’s takeover approach yesterday, saying it would enhance Ireland’s position as a travel hub. IAG’s €1.36bn (£1bn) offer already had the backing of the Aer Lingus board, subject to the approval of its two largest shareholders Ryanair and the Irish state.

Water usage rises in warmer winter

Water and waste water firm Severn Trent said it expected winter consumption to be slightly higher than a year ago as a result of warmer weather. The firm, which supplies  4.3 million households and firms across the Midlands and parts of Wales, said it was on track to deliver full-year results in line with City forecasts.

Afren talks with Nigeria break up

Takeover talks between Nigeria’s Seplat and the debt-laden oil explorer Afren have ended, the London-listed group said yesterday. Shares in Afren have fallen 95 per cent since the end of July and credit rating agencies have warned of an imminent risk of default. Afren said it remained in talks with its creditors.

Smart move by British Gas

British Gas is to launch internet-connected “smart” home appliances after buying the company that powers its app-controlled thermostat, Hive. The energy giant is buying nine-year-old AlertMe in a deal that values the business at £65m. British Gas already owned a 21 per cent stake.

Traders cash in Bwin.Party chips

Shares in Bwin.Party tumbled 18 per cent as traders bet the online gaming group’s takeover talks are over. Bwin.Party, which runs PartyPoker, said in November that it was in talks about selling up, and William Hill, Playtech and the Canadian gaming group, Amaya, were all mooted as interested players.

Nationwide profits surge to £963m 

Nationwide opened 339,000 current accounts in the nine months to December – seven per cent more than in the same period in 2013 – as Britain’s biggest building society grew its market share to 6.7 per cent. Headline profits nearly doubled to £963m from £539m.

Fitbug sales rise  a healthy 310%

Fitbug, the AIM-listed maker of health and fitness monitoring devices, unveiled a 310 per cent jump in full-year sales, with momentum accelerating. It has signed sales deals with Amazon, Argos and Sainsbury’s in the past year. Its shares rose 0.25p to 6p.

Anglo American takes a $3.9bn hit

Anglo American has taken  a $3.9bn (£2.5bn) writedown, saying sliding iron ore prices had slashed the value of its Minas-Rio mining project in Brazil. Underlying earnings fell to $2.22bn in 2014 from $2.7bn a year earlier.

Sparkling sales at Quintain Emerald 

Property firm Quintain said  80 per cent of the 284 private flats at its Emerald Gardens complex in Wembley, north London, have been sold a year ahead of schedule. It this week received planning permission for a further 370 flats.