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The Business Matrix: Saturday 15 October 2011

Consumer caution hits Asos sales

The slowdown in consumer spending in the UK hit sales at online fashion retailer Asos in the three months to the end of September. Revenues in its home market rose just 1 per cent to £44m in the group’s second financial quarter. This compared with a 53 per cent jump in total sales to £107m as foreign customers flocked to its sites.

Sportingbet sells Turkish website

Sportingbet has sold its Turkish website for £125m to East Pioneer Corp, which is backed by GVC, a European online gaming company. The sale comes days after takeover talks between Sportingbet and Ladbrokes broke down over the big bookmaker’s concerns about the Turkish business and any possible residual liabilities.

Legoland park opens in Florida

The theme park owner Merlin is to open Legoland Florida today, the first Legoland park to open since 2005 and the second to be situated in the US. Merlin now has five Legoland theme parks, with a sixth to open in Malaysia next year. The new park, sited outside Orlando, will compete with Disneyworld, Seaworld and Harry Potter World.

Hermes in call for Murdoch to quit

Fund manager Hermes says Rupert Murdoch should quit as chairman of News Corporation as a step toward restoring trust in the global media company. Hermes also wants his sons, James and Lachlan, and affiliated directors to be replaced by “credible outside directors”. News Corp is holding its annual meeting next Friday.

Construction sector falls

Construction output was down 4.1 per cent in August compared with a year ago. Chris Williamson at Markit said: “Construction industry output appears to be collapsing... providing further cause to worry about the overall health of the economy.” The sector accounts for nearly 8 per cent of the UK economy.

Unilever to buy Concern Kalina

The consumer goods giant Unilever is to buy the Russian cosmetics group Concern Kalina for €500m (£436m) as part of its strategy to expand into fast-growing emerging markets. Concern Kalina is Russia’s largest local personal care company with leading positions in skin and hair care.

Sony Ericsson’s smartphone aim

The mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson is to focus entirely on the booming smartphone market, going head-to-head with rivals like Apple. The company, which reported a swing back to profit of €31m (£27m), declined to comment on recent reports Sonywants to take 100 per cent control of the venture.

Double IMF’ plan resisted by US

Proposals to double the size of the IMF in response to Europe’s debt crisis has run into resistance from the US and others, burying the idea for now and putting the onus back on Europe. The plan, backed by several developing economies, emerged as G20 finance ministers and central bankers began meeting in Paris.

Google passes $1bn milestone

Google’s quarterly revenues have passed the $1bn (£636bn) mark in the UK for the first time as online advertising boomed. Global revenues at the internet search giant jumped by a third to nearly $10bn. Its UK revenues are due to hit £2.5bn this year, overtaking ITV’s, which are just under £2bn.

Euro falls as S&P cuts Spain’s rating

Standard & Poor’s has cut Spain’s credit rating, sending the euro briefly lower. S&P, whose move mirrored one by rival credit-rating agency Fitch last week, cited high unemployment, tightening credit and high private-sector debt among reasons for cutting Spain’s longterm rating to AA- from AA.