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The Business Matrix: Saturday 28 July 2012

United hit as Brits scrimp on water

Britons switching from estimated bills to water meters have stopped United Utilities' profits rising as much as they could have from the new year's regulated price increases. United's chairman, John McAdam, said businesses are also using considerably less water.

No child's play for toy maker

Doctor Who toy firm Character warned yesterday that the retail squeeze threatened to exterminate profits. Character, which designs and distributes toys from Scooby Doo to HM Armed Forces, blamed Jubilee celebrations, Euro 2012 football, bad weather, the eurozone crisis and the Olympics for consumers' unwillingness to spend on toys.

Russian court fines BP $3bn

Oil major BP's woes in Russia deepened yesterday after a Siberian court landed it with a $3bn (£1.9bn) bill for damages over its failed tie-up with Rosneft in 2010. The claim – which BP dubbed an "attempted corporate attack" – was brought by Andrei Prokhorov, an investor in BP's Russian joint venture TNK-BP.

Stiff sentences for insider traders

The six men in the so-called "print room" insider trader ring, where a bank employee working in the print room of UBS stole secret takeover documents so his friends could trade shares in the companies mentioned, were jailed for up to three-and-a-half years. The case cost the Financial Services Authority £5m.

Samsung running rings round Apple

Samsung's Galaxy smartphones are outselling rival Apple's iPhones by nearly two to one, leading to record second-quarter profits for the Korean technology giant. Samsung said operating profits hit an all-time high of 6.7trn won (£2.7bn) between April and June, 79 per cent above a year earlier.

Carphone says phones too pricey

Carphone Warehouse yesterday blamed the "lack of attractively priced smartphone products" at the cheap end of the mobile market for hurting sales. The retail group said the pre-pay market continued to be "weak". Like-for-like sales at its subsidiary, Carphone Europe, fell 2 per cent to £776m in the quarter.

Wing woe clips Airbus hopes

Airbus yesterday admitted the launch of its new A350 passenger jet will be delayed by another three months because of wing problems at the British factory making them. The new aircraft was already a year behind schedule and the latest delay will result in a charge of €124m (£97m).

Apple in £229m fingerprint buy

Expect the next generation of Apple tablets and iPhones to include fingerprint recognition technology. The company last night landed a $356m (£229m) takeover of US fingerprint security firm AuthenTec in a deal that will see it explore ways in which it can improve security.

William Hill on a phones winner

William Hill yesterday reported half-year profits up 13 per cent on a year ago at £143.3m, with revenues gaining 11 per cent to £627.8m. The results were partly driven by surging phone betting. Mobile revenues on sports were up 390 per cent in June.

Burberry to take control in France

Burberry will have full control of its make-up and perfume ranges when a near-20-year agreement with its licensee expires at the end of the year. The luxury brand has ended talks with its French perfume licensee Inter parfums.

Career Services

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With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

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As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
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