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The Business Matrix: Saturday 18 February 2012



Stelios' bumpy ride for easyJet

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou set the scene for a stormy annual meeting of easyJet on Thursday as the airline's founder said he would vote against the re-election of a string of directors and its pay report. The entrepreneur, whose family still controls 38 per cent of easyJet, is also unhappy over plans to buy new aircraft.

Severn Trent will not cut water use

Severn Trent, the water company serving the Midlands and parts of Wales, said it is "not currently" predicting any usage restrictions, despite having faced record low rainfall over the winter. The company said its position has been helped by a decline in consumption as households and firms look to cut bills.

S&U beefs up its base in Yorkshire

Home credit and motor finance provider S&U has bought Rotherham-based Norton Financial Services, which will add to its customer base in the Yorkshire area. The doorstep lender also said its annual results would exceed City expectations after both arms traded well over Christmas.

Warner warns of 'worthless' stock

Warner Estates, which manages properties worth £1.2bn across the country, yesterday warned investors its shares are likely to be worthless even if it can successfully reach a deal with its three main lenders. The company said it is in discussions with Barclays, Lloyds and BlackRock. Its shares fell 1p to 3p.

Apple wins patent dispute on iPhone

Apple has won a patent dispute against Motorola over the "slide-to-unlock" feature on its iPhone. A German court yesterday ruled Motorola's smartphones infringed Apple's technology where a finger swipe across the screen unlocks the phone. Motorola said it planned to appeal the judgment.

Spectris profits rise by 45 per cent

The instrument and controls company Spectris reported a 45 per cent rise in underlying annual profits to £192 million, as sales rose by a fifth to £1.1 billion. The group said all of its segments delivered record sales and profits and announced a 20 per cent hike in its dividend.

Dragon's interest boosts Bowleven

Shares in the oil explorer Bowleven jumped by two-thirds after Dragon Oil, which is focused on the Caspian Sea, said it was in the early stages of considering a takeover offer. Bowleven, which has a market value of £354m, has exploration interests in West Africa.

London exchange considers £1bn bid

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has made a bid for the London Metal Exchange that could value the 135-year-old trading pit at £1 billion. The LME, the world's largest metals futures market, is expected to meet next week to consider offers. NYSE Euronext has also submitted an expression of interest.

Technology staff still in demand

Skills shortages in niche markets and the fast-growing digital and mobile sectors continued to drive demand for technology staff, recruitment services group Harvey Nash said. Full-year results will be ahead of expectations as profits are set to rise 31 per cent to about £8.2m.

Ferrari roars past €2bn in revenue

Ferrari sold a record 7,195 cars last year, up 9 per cent on 2010, helping drive revenues at the Italian car maker past €2bn (£1.7bn) for the first time. The sportscar brand, which is owned by Fiat, said it had achieved record sales in America and in China. Deliveries to Britain were up 23 per cent – at 574.