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The Business Matrix: Saturday 21 July 2012

Italy and Spain drag on Vodafone

Vodafone is dialling up a new round of cost cuts after sales growth was dragged down by belt-tightening customers in southern Europe. Underlying service revenue in the region fell 1.6 per cent in the latest quarter. The main culprits were Italy and Spain, where revenues dipped by 7.7 per cent and 10 per cent.

Singapore denies LSE merger move

Fresh talk that the London Stock Exchange could fall into foreign hands swept the City, following a report that it had held talks with its S ingapore rival about a possible £7bn merger. The Singaporeans denied talks, but the LSE had talks with Deutsche Boerse about a similar deal in the 1990s.

Clinton's US deal faces probe

US greeting cards firm American Greetings' swoop for collapsed Clinton Cards has caught the attention of the UK's trading watchdog. The Office of Fair Trading is examining whether it will result in a "substantial lessening of competition".

Goals threatens to score twice

A bidding war for Goals Soccer increased after the five-a-side football chain agreed to a £73m takeover by the pension fund owner of Camelot lottery operator – only for a rival suitor to advise shareholders to hold their horses. Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has agreed to pay 144p per share for the chain.

Heineken tries to swallow Tiger

Heineken has offered to pay $6bn for the near-60 per cent stake in Tiger beer brewer Asia Pacific Breweries that it does not already own. The move is a bid to block Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi from growing his influence on the company.

India takes the edge off De Beers

De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer, said profits halved to $502m (£320m) in the first six months of the year as it suffered "tightening liquidity and challenging conditions in India". Prices were "relatively stable" but lower demand pushed sales down 14 per cent.

Plumber gains from overseas call

Troubled emergency call-out insurer Homeserve shrugged off its potential mis-selling scandal with the helped of strong trading overseas. The firm told shareholders at its annual meeting that it remains "on track to achieve our full year customer number and retention targets" in the UK.

Goals threatens to score twice

A bidding war for Goals Soccer increased after the five-a-side football chain agreed to a £73m takeover by the pension fund owner of Camelot lottery operator – only for a rival suitor to advise shareholders to hold their horses. Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has agreed to pay 144p per share for the chain.

Bookies trade blows over levy

Betting exchange Betfair hit out at William Hill yesterday as it thwarted the bookmaker's latest attempt to make thousands of its customers pay the UK's horse-racing levy. William Hill claimed because Betfair's customers can take or "lay" bets on horses as well as backing them they were in effect bookmakers and should pay the annual levy.

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