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The Business Matrix: Saturday 31 December 2011

House prices 'will fall further in 2012'

House prices fell last month and are likely to continue sliding next year, says Nationwide. Prices fell 0.2 per cent this month and the UK's biggest building society said they would move "sideways or modestly lower" in 2012. "Labour market conditions are likely to remain challenging, deterring buyers from entering the housing market," it added.

Homeowners take less out of homes

The Bank of England issued new data highlighting the weak state of the property market. Homeowners injected £8.6bn of equity into their homes between July and September. The Bank said this was due to the weak flow of mortgage lending. The trend remains that people are paying down their debts rather than borrowing more. MORE

Greenergy plans £500m flotation

Greenergy, the UK's third-biggest private company by turnover, accelerated plans for a £500m stock market flotation by offering share options in the business to its staff. The firm supplies a fifth of all road fuel sold in the UK and is part-owned by Tesco. It has hired banking advisers to review how best to grow its business.

Boards need more women, says IoD

The Institute of Directors urged companies to put more women on boards in 2012. Its director-general, Simon Walker, said there were "still too few women in the boardroom". The IoD's seven main directors are all men. Meanwhile, Tesco director Lucy Neville-Rolfe said it had 70 per cent more female directors globally than it did in 2007.

Reuben Brothers get new deadline

Property tycoons, the Reuben Brothers, have won an extension on the deadline of their bid for racecourse owner Arena Leisure. The brothers are carrying out due diligence and were told by the Takeover Panel to make a bid or walk away by 5pm yesterday. This has been extended to 5pm on 6 January.

Whirlpool attacks S Korean rivals

The household appliances group Whirlpool accused two South Korean rivals, Samsung and LG, of dumping washing machines in the US by selling them "at substantially less than fair value" – in breach of trade agreements. Whirlpool's shares have slid by more than 46 per cent this year because of by weak demand.

'Spain must stay vigilant on deficit'

Olli Rehn, the EU's economic and monetary affairs commissioner, said Spain must remain on track to correct its excessive deficit after the new Spanish government said this year's black hole would be much larger than expected. Spain announced surprise tax hikes and wage freezes, which Mr Rehn welcomed.

Pension fund sues Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse has been sued by a large Dutch pension fund that claimed the Swiss bank misled it about the quality of residential mortgage-backed securities it bought, resulting in "substantial" losses. Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP (ABP), which invests €250bn ($324bn), said it bought the securities between 2005 and 2007.

Brazil watchdog raps Chevron

Brazil's oil industry watchdog has issued a third citation against Chevron for a November spill at the Frade offshore field, signalling that regulators are stepping up oversight of the second-largest US oil company's offshore operations in Brazil. Regulators can fine Chevron up to $26.8m for each citation.

EU criticises new Hungary law

Hungary passed a central bank law in defiance of EU and IMF warnings that it infringed the bank's independence. The legislation is part of a campaign by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government to strengthen its influence over media and public institutions that has prompted protests from the EU.

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