The Business Matrix: Saturday 25 February 2012


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The Independent Online


William Hill takes 6% more money

William Hill's chief executive Ralph Topping admitted that the Saturday last November which saw all the football favourites win cost him a sleepless night, as the bookmaker unveiled a 6 per cent rise in annual revenues to £1.1bn yesterday. Profits at Britain's biggest betting shop chain came in at £276m for 2011.

CPP reaches deal over mis-selling

CPP, the credit card and identity theft protection group, has reached a deal with the Financial Services Authority over mis-selling policies, which could save it from going under. But the company's shares will remain suspended for several weeks, it will not pay a dividend and could still face a substantial fine.

Royal carpet firm pulls rug on sell-off

The firm that made the red carpet for last summer's royal wedding has decided to end its attempts to sell itself until after a shareholder meeting called by rebel investors next month. The Kidderminister-based company Victoria is battling an attempted boardroom coup led by its former chairman.

Maplin has new boss in charge

Maplin Electronics, the private equity-owned electronics retailer, has hired John Cleland as its chief executive from next month. Mr Cleland was most recently the chief executive of Esporta, the fitness chain acquired by Virgin Active last year. He also has held senior roles at Asda, Somerfield and B&Q.

Crude passes $125 amid supply fears

Brent crude prices passed $125 a barrel last night and headed for a fifth straight weekly gain amid heightened fears of tensions with Iran and cuts in supply. A report from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had sharply stepped up its uranium enrichment efforts.

O2 hit with biggest revenue drop

O2 has suffered its steepest fall in quarterly revenues since it launched in the UK a decade ago. Revenues at the Telefonica-owned UK mobile firm fell 8.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, capping a 3.7 per cent fall to £5.3bn over the year. The decline came as 02 cut some iPhone tariffs, boosting upgrades.

Belt-tightening sees GDP falter

A worrying plunge in investment spending suggests businesses are still not keen to bet on recovery. The economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the final quarter, revised ONS figures confirmed. GDP growth for 2011 was revised down to 0.8 per cent from 0.9 per cent after growth in Q1 and Q3 was weaker than earlier forecasts.

Mega-merger goes to commission

Glencore and Xstrata set the clock ticking on their $90bn (£57bn) mining mega-merger yesterday, as the duo said they would notify the European Commission over the deal. Once acknowledged, the commission has 25 days to decide whether it will approve, reject or investigate the merger.

Proportion saving falls below half

Fewer than half of workers are saving into a company pension scheme – the lowest proportion since records began in 1997. The Office for National Statistics said 48 per cent of employees were saving into schemes in 2011. In the public sector 83 per cent were enrolled in workplace plans but in the private sector it is 33 per cent.

Rightmove fuels hopes of a revival

Hopes of a revival in the housing market were fuelled after the property website Rightmove reported a 20 per cent jump in traffic this year. That matched the trend seen last year, with Rightmove driving a 23 per cent rise in 2011 profits to £69.4m by persuading advertisers to spend more.