The Business Matrix: Saturday 2 March 2013


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Bertelsmann in control of BMG

The German media giant Bertelsmann is buying out its partner in the music-publishing company BMG, giving it full control of a catalogue boasting one million songs by artists such as Bruno Mars (left), Duran Duran and Frank Ocean. The private-equity group KKR will receive more than £500m for its 51 per cent stake in the business.

WPP wins 'ugly' in breaking record

WPP smashed annual profit records for the second year in a row in 2012 but the advertising giant's chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell yesterday admitted "we got there ugly". Pre-tax profits in 2012 jumped 8 per cent to almost £1.1bn but underlying sales rose only 2.9 per cent to £10.4bn, below the 4 per cent forecast a year ago.

BSkyB pays £200m for O2 operations

BSkyB made a significant move to grow beyond pay-TV yesterday, paying up to £200m for mobile giant O2's broadband and fixed-line operation. The move means Sky leapfrogs rival Virgin Media to become the UK's second-biggest broadband provider by customer numbers and also closes the gap with BT.

Stagecoach hit by bad weather

The blizzards that battered North America this winter kept Megabus coaches off the road and hit profits at Stagecoach's US arm in the 10 months to February. City analysts still expect the firm, which also runs South West Trains and is a partner in Virgin Rail, to post full-year profits near £210m.

Rightmove posts 26% profits jump

Rightmove has posted a 26 per cent jump in underlying profits to a record £87.5m last year. The homes website saw traffic grow 18 per cent to more than 11 billion page views last year. That meant Rightmove could squeeze more out of advertisers, with average revenue per advertiser hitting £529 per month.

Results are boost for Taylor Wimpey

The UK's biggest housebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, capped a week of stellar results from the industry as it unveiled a 106 per cent rise in profits to £185m for 2012. Wimpey, which nearly went bust in 2009, sold 10,886 homes last year and halved its debt pile to £59m. The firm is "cautiously optimistic" for this year.

William Hill's online punt

William Hill has spent £424m to take control of its online operation. The deal – buying out Playtech's 29 per cent stake – gives it a freer hand to invest in the £1.5bn online business. The boom in mobile betting helped to fuel a 48 per cent rise in the firm's profits to £278m last year.

Hammerson reaps rewards of offers

The shopping-centre owner Hammerson, whose malls include the Bullring in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London, saw annual profits rise 8 per cent to £153m. It said retail parks in out-of-town locations were benefiting from the rise in click-and-collect offers from retailers.

Tablets trend aids Laird's £520m

Laird, which makes parts used in wireless devices such as Apple's iPhones and iPads, posted a 17 per cent rise in underlying profits to £61m for 2012 amid a surge in demand for tablets and smartphones. The firm said revenues rose 6 per cent to £520m.

Recovery pushes Vertu forward

Vertu Motors said full-year figures would be better than expected after a recovery in the new-car market saw like-for-like sales volumes leap 13.6 per cent ahead in the five months to 31 January. Like-for-like used-car sales edged 0.4 per cent higher against a flat market, it added.