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The Business Matrix: Saturday 30 July 2011

Manganese cuts half-year losses

Black cab maker Manganese Bronze has reduced its half-year losses to £700,000 from £4.9m a year earlier, helped by ongoing restructuring efforts along with record international sales. Sales volumes at Manganese in the UK, however, were down by 6.8 per cent to 748 vehicles as a result of continued challenging market conditions.

Rentokil plagued by City Link woes

The royal rat catcher Rentokil Initial signalled further delays in the turnaround of its troubled parcels arm City Link yesterday saying its performance will not improve until the last quarter. Losses at the unit rose in the first half, helping lower Rentokil’s profits 4 per cent to £74m despite steadier performances in other parts of the group.

House prices up by 0.2% in July

House prices inched up in July as low demand and supply kept the market becalmed, according to Nationwide. The average price rose to £168,731, up 0.2 per cent from the previous month, and 0.4 per cent lower than this time last year. The number of property deals completed in the second quarter – 204,000 – was the lowest for two years.

All Leisure sees revenues rise

The cruise company All Leisure has narrowed losses and increased its revenues in the six months to the end of April. The Sussex-based company, which owns Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic, Hebridean Island Cruises and Discover Egypt, reported first half revenues up to £35m from £32m and losses down to £4.2m from £4.5m.

Profits up 25% at Travis Perkins

Wickes’ owner, Travis Perkins, unveiled a 25 per cent rise in half-year profits to £140m, boosted by last year’s acquisition of plumbing firm BSS and the company's position as the UK’s largest supplier of building materials. The firm predicted that trading conditions would remain tough, however.

Boards urged to take more women

The Government has written to the bosses of the 350 largest listed companies, urging them to increase the number of women on their boards. Vince Cable and Theresa May sent letters to chief executives highlighting the business case for gender diversity. A recent report suggested a minimum figure of 25 per cent.

NRAM repays Government £1bn

Northern Rock Asset Management (NRAM), the “bad bank” managing the toxic assets of the collapsed lender, has paid back another £1bn to the Government, bringing its balance down to £20.7bn at the end of June. The update came as NRAM revealed a surge in half-yearly profits to £344m, from £182m a year ago.

Starbucks’ Rymer takes over as CEO

Clinton Cards’ founder Don Lewin is to be replaced as chief executive by Darcy Willson- Rymer, managing director of Starbucks in the UK and Ireland. Mr Lewin, who set up the business more than 40 years ago, will become the nonexecutive chairman, alongside two new board members.

NAB rules out Lloyds auction

National Australia Bank (NAB) has decided not to bid for 630 up for sale Lloyds branches, put off by the expected £3bn price tag. NAB, Australia’s biggest lender by assets, was considered a front runner for the Lloyds branches, ordered to be sold by the European regulator after its rescue during the credit crisis.

Bonus for Greene King chief

Rooney Anand, the boss of Greene King, has been awarded a bonus of £758,000 on top of his £505,000 salary, the brewer’s annual report reveals. Greene King this week bought rival pub company Capital Pub Co for £93m, gaining another 35 pubs in London and trumping its rival, Fuller, Smith & Turner.