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The Business Matrix: Saturday 2 July 2011

Vodafone buys out Essar for $3bn

Vodafone has sealed a long-awaited deal to buy out its partner Essar from their Indian mobile joint venture for £3bn, ending a highly fractious relationship. The telecoms giant will buy the 33 per cent stake owned by a collection of Essar companies, giving it a majority 74 per cent stake in the venture.

Ex-Bundesbank chief to chair UBS

The Swiss bank UBS has named the ex-Bundesbank president Axel Weber as its next chairman in a move that has robbed rival Deutsche Bank of a top candidate to succeed its chief, Josef Ackermann. Weber’s exit from the Bundesbank this year left Germany without a candidate for head of the European Central Bank.

Redrow sells off Scottish division

Redrow sold its loss-making business in Scotland in a £49m deal to enable it to concentrate on the more lucrative markets in London and the South-east. The Flintshire-based firm recently said the performance of the division was not “acceptable” after it made losses of £1.7m in the year to the end of June 2010.

Flybe pays £23m for Finnish airline

Flybe has pressed ahead with its expansion plans by entering into a joint venture to buy a Finnish airline for €25m euros (£23m). It has agreed to buy Finnish Commuter Airlines (FCA) in partnership with Finnair, Finland's flag carrier. Flybe will take a 60 per cent stake in the joint venture.

British Gas fined £1m for blunder

British Gas has been fined £1m after it miscalculated how much of the electricity that it supplies to its business customers had come from renewable sources. The company will also repay more than £2.8m in rewards to the Government because it did not come as close to its renewable energy targets as claimed.

McKenna to be COO at Asda

Asda, the British arm of U.S. retailer Wal-Mart, has promoted Judith McKenna, its finance director, to be its new chief operating officer. Ms McKenna, an Asda veteran of more than 15 years, will, from September, lead all the firm’s retail operations, including its stores, distribution network and IT systems.

Sea Lion gives lift to Rockhopper

The Falkland Island oil explorer Rockhopper said the programme to assess its Sea Lion prospect had got off to “a very good start”, but added that any development would require “considerable further financing”. Losses in the year to March climbed to £55m from £4.8m a year ago, as appraisal work stepped up a gear.

Soccer pitch firm tackles VAT claim

Five-a-side football pitch group Goals Soccer Centres has warned that it has yet to resolve a row over the rate of VAT it must pay that could cost it £650,000 in lost profits each year. The group is disputing an HMRC decision to start taxing block-bookings of pitches made by teams to fulfil league fixtures.