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The Business Matrix: Saturday 3 May 2014

Williams races back into profit

The Williams Formula One team returned to profit last year, despite a poor season on the track for the former world champions, helped by a one-off payment from its outgoing sponsor, the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. That meant Williams, the only F1 team with a listing, posted a £12m profit.

Carlyle is biggest private equity firm

Carlyle is the world’s biggest private equity investor after raising a $30.5bn (£18.1bn) war chest in five years, according to figures from Private Equity International. Carlyle, which owns the RAC and the minicab firm Addison Lee among others, overtook rival TPG after raising $22bn in 2013.

Direct Line takes £60m winter hit

Direct Line said yesterday that claims related to the harsh winter weather cost it £60m in the first quarter of the year. The company, which was spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2012, also said the cost of buying a motor insurance policy had fallen by 4 per cent owing to competition across the market.

Rentokil sees 36% more enquiries

More vermin creeping into homes and offices saw the Queen’s rat-catcher, Rentokil Initial, enjoy a 36 per cent rise in enquiries in Britain in the first three months of the year. Overall, pre-tax profit in the three months rose 6 per cent to £19.3m, although it was held back by the strengthening pound.

Cips reports slow growth for April

Builders enjoyed a year of growth as a housebuilding revival sparked by the Help to Buy scheme spurred the industry in April. But the overall pace of expansion slowed last month, with the Cips purchasing managers’ index  falling from 62.5 to 60.8, as flood work among civil engineers eased off.

Fremantle ends All3Media talks

FremantleMedia, the TV company which makes The X Factor, has walked away from talks about buying All3Media, producer of Gogglebox, The Only Way Is Essex and Hollyoaks. It is believed that Fremantle, part of RTL, felt All3Media’s private equity owner Permira was looking for too high a price.

InterContinental cheers investors

Chinese tourists flocking to the UK helped the giant InterContinental Hotels Group post its strongest revenue growth for nearly two year. First-quarter global revenue per available room – a key industry measure – grew 6 per cent and the group said it would hand £444m back to investors.

£550m Scottish Widows is sold

Aberdeen Asset Management has completed the £550m acquisition of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, making it Europe’s biggest independent asset manager, with funds of more than £330bn. Aberdeen bought the business from the partially state-owned Lloyds Banking Group.

Google sued ‘for abusing position’

A member of the public is suing Google over claims that it abused its market position by forcing manufacturers of mobile phones and tablets that use its Android system to also provide Google apps. This makes it more expensive for consumers to use others, the lawsuit says.

Stephenson quits Barclays for UBS

Ros Stephenson, the chairman of investment banking at Barclays Bank, has quit to join UBS amid a reorganisation of the securities business. Stephenson, 52, will become UBS’s global chairman of corporate client solutions, based in New York.

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