The Business Matrix: Saturday 29 September 2012


Wet summer good for Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook has given its long-suffering investors hope after the revealing it was boosted by a late rush of British people fleeing the wettest summer on record. The tour operator, which almost collapsed last year under the weight of its debts, said late bookings were good, especially to Turkey, Spain and Greece.

BoA pays £1.5bn to settle class action

Bank of America has agreed to pay $2.43bn (£1.5bn) to settle a shareholder lawsuit claiming it made misleading statements during its 2008 buyout of Merrill Lynch in one of the largest-ever settlements of a securities fraud class action. The bank denied the allegations and said it had settled to end the long-drawn-out litigation.

Dods doubles its losses to £2.8m

Losses at Dods, the political publisher which boasts Tory donor Lord Ashcroft as a major shareholder, have almost doubled in the last six months to £2.8m. Exceptional costs from a failed acquisition and the abrupt exit of its chief executive were the main reasons for Dods' slump deeper into the red.

Sales at Harvester up three per cent

Mitchells & Butlers has shrugged off the wet weather and people staying in to watch the Olympics by delivering an improvement in recent trading, prompting the City analysts to lift their annual forecasts. Sales at the Harvester owner rose 3 per cent in the recent weeks.

Good spirits in spite of losses

Newbury Racecourse said its half-yearly losses had widened to £1.4m, but underlying racing revenues rose 5 per cent. The group added that its recent makeover went down well with racegoers, with food and drink sales up 20 per cent.

Direct Line float could realise £2bn

Royal Bank of Scotland's long-awaited flotation of Insurance by will be priced at between 160p and 195p, the bank said yesterday, towards the bottom end of expectations. At the mid-point, the insurer – which also owns the Churchill, Green Flag and Privilege brands – will be valued at £2.7bn.

Electronics firm sees sales slump

Electrocomponents has warned that its half-year profits will slump by a third, after recent sales tumbled by 6 per cent in the US and by 1 per cent in Europe. UK sales were helped by the Raspberry Pi, a low-cost mini-computer developed to promote computer skills.

Metro seeks new chairman

Metro bank, the first high street bank to be launched for 100 years, is looking for a new chairman after Anthony Thomson stepped down. Metro wants to appoint a new chairman by January 2013 to help it through to a planned IPO, expected around 2015. The bank has 12 branches in London and the South-east.

Services sector sees rise in output

The services sector – which makes up 75 per cent of the economy – grew rapidly in July, according to the ONS, with output up 1.1 per cent in the month. Year on year, three of the four main components of the sector – government, business services and financials – rose, raising hopes of a end to the recession.

Senior HMRC resignations soar

Resignations by senior managers at HM Revenue & Customs have rocketed 45 per cent in the past year as it came under criticism over issues such as PAYE code mistakes . Forty-two managers resigned in 2011-12 compared with just 29 in 2010-11.