The Business Matrix: Saturday 29 October 2011

Royal Mail surge for Christmas jobs

The Royal Mail has received more than 80,000 applications for 18,000 seasonal Christmas jobs. The number of applications is 10,000 more than last year, although the Royal Mail is still looking for more seasonal workers in several areas, including Watford, Peterborough, Bristol, Edinburgh, Swansea and Northampton.

Polestar wind-up letters land today

More than 8,000 members of the pension scheme operated by the magazine printer Polestar will today begin receiving letters detailing plans to wind it up. The scheme’s liabilities of £900m will be taken on by the Pension Protection Fund, but experts warn that scheme members who have not yet retired could see their pensions cut by 10 per cent.

Icesave payments to UK can begin

Iceland’s Supreme Court has rejected a plea by bondholders in collapsed bank Landsbanki for equal treatment to depositors, clearing the way for payments of Icesave debt owed to the UK and the Netherlands to begin. The pair claim more than $5bn from the Landsbanki estate, having paid off domestic depositors who had money in “Icesave” accounts.

WPP cuts its growth forecast

WPP has cut its growth forecasts for the full year as pressure in the US and at its market research business caused revenues to slow in recent months. Yet Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP’s boss, said the prospects for 2012 “do not look dire”, with the Olympics and US presidential election “buttressing” spending on advertising.

Wall St watchdog looks at Olympus

The US market watchdog has become the latest regulator to launch inquiries into Olympus’s controversial takeover activity. The Securities and Exchanges Commission has kicked off an investigation into the company’s record $687m payout to an adviser over its $2bn takeover of the British group Gyrus.

Whirlpool axes 5,000 jobs

Whirlpool, the manufacturer of Maytag appliances and Kitchen Aid mixers, is responding to “recessionary” demand in developed markets by cutting more than 5,000 jobs, about a tenth of its workforce in North America and Europe. The group has been hurt by high costs and by shoppers cutting big-ticket buys.

Lookers’ private new car sales dip

The car dealership Lookers has reported a 10 per cent drop in private new car sales as plummeting consumer confidence weighed on the business. The group, said overall new-car sales were up 2 per cent but this was boosted by a 30 per cent surge in fleet sales between 1 July and 27 October.

TNK-BP closer to Amazon deal

TNK-BP is close to a $1bn (£621m) deal to buy a 45 per cent stake in Amazon oil exploration blocks from Brazil’s HRT Participacoes. The deal, expected to be signed early next week, would be the largest foreign investment by Russia’s No 3 oil firm, a 50-50 joint venture between BP and four Soviet-born billionaires.

Primark sets out stall in Selfridges

Primark is to set up shop in branches of the department store Selfridges as the value retailer seeks to increase its hold on the high street. Its first concession stores will sell an edited version of the Primark’s menswear range. The first outlet will open in Selfridges’ Bullring store in Birmingham on Monday.

Strong oil prices boost Total profits

Profits at the French oil major Total were boosted by stronger crude prices in its third quarter. Earnings came in at €2.8bn (£2.5bn), with improved profitability in its refining business helped make up for a fall in its worldwide oil and gas production. Looking ahead, Total said big finds would fuel its growth.