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The Business Matrix: Saturday 17 November 2012

Twinkies maker to close down

Hostess Brands, the bankrupt maker of the cream-filled Twinkies sponge cakes, sought court clearance to go out of business yesterday after failing to convince thousands of striking workers to accept an 8 per cent wage cut and reduced benefits. The company said most of its 18,500 employees would lose their jobs.

Sales growth at Melrose falls 50%

Melrose, which buys underperforming engineering and manufacturing companies to turn them round before selling them, admitted yesterday that sales growth has almost halved in the last four months. It also warned it was "not immune" to worsening global economic conditions, conceding "the sales outlook for 2013 has become more uncertain".

Eurozone's £8bn trade surplus

In a sign of hope for southern Europe, new data shows exports from Greece and Portugal grew strongly in the first eight months of this year and lifted the eurozone's trade surplus. The 17 countries sharing the euro posted a €9.8bn (£7.8bn) trade surplus with the rest of the world in September.

Mittal cements deal with Tarmac

Britain's richest man, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, has made his first personal acquisition in the UK after agreeing to buy one of the country's largest cement plants. Also included in the £272m deal with Tarmac and France's Lafarge are 172 ready-mix concrete plants and five aggregates quarries.

Serco's contract wins total £1.4bn

Times may be tough and money scarce, but at least for outsourcing group Serco business keeps rolling in. The company, which runs the Boris bikes scheme in London, said it had won £1.4bn worth of new contracts since the end of July. The haul takes Serco's total contract wins to £5.4bn so far this year.

Aegis reports 6.3% jump in revenues

Aegis, Britain's second-biggest advertising group, reported a market-leading 6.3 per cent jump in third-quarter revenues yesterday, easily out-performing rivals. Chief executive Jerry Buhlmann said its success came from "integrated campaigns our clients require in the convergent media environment".

Rolet predicts boost for SMEs

London Stock Exchange boss Xavier Rolet is optimistic small and medium businesses will get a boost in next month's autumn statement. "Finally the message has got through to senior decision makers and politicians that growth can only come from creating jobs," said Mr Rolet.

Paddy Power's Q3 finishes at a canter

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said it had a strong third quarter despite a slowdown during the Olympics and poor weather that saw some horse racing cancellations. On the high street, revenue was up 5 per cent; it plans to open another 45 shops across the UK by the end of the year.

160,000 bank jobs lost in two years

Large banks have made 160,000 job cuts since the start of 2011 and are only recruiting half as many people as they have let go, according to research by Reuters. The cuts have fallen much more heavily on Europe than in the United States and Asia.

Bayer bids $1.2bn for Schiff Nutrition

Reckitt Benckiser has made a $1.4bn (£881.4m) bid to add US vitamins company Schiff Nutrition International to its shelves – beating German pharma firm Bayer's agreed deal and potentially igniting a bidding war. Bayer has offered $1.2bn.

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