The Business Matrix: Saturday 7 January 2012


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The Independent Online

LoveFilm signs up for TV dramas

The online movie rental company LoveFilm has unveiled two new content deals, with the BBC and ITV, as the battle for internet video on demand hots up ahead of the launch of the US giant NetFlix in the UK. The new deals cover dramas and documentaries such as Doctor Who, left, Spooks, Planet Earth and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Big bonuses for hedge fund four

The four partners at Paulson Europe, the UK arm of John Paulson's hedge fund firm, have shared a £27m annual bonus pool, even though profits fell 17 per cent in the year to the end of March. The results come after a dismal period for Paulson, one of the industry's biggest stars. The highest-paid partner – likely to be Mr Paulson – got almost £15m.

Leighton shake-up continues at Pace

The chairman of Pace, Allan Leighton, continued his shake-up of the troubled TV set-top box maker yesterday as another director departed. The chief operating officer, David McKinney, left with immediate effect just three weeks after the departure of the chief executive, Neil Gaydon. Mr Leighton said the two roles would be combined.

Fifth director leaves Tesco

Tesco has suffered the loss of another senior executive. Per Bank, the commercial director of non-food on Tesco's UK board, is returning to Denmark to head the Dansk Supermarket chain. Four other senior directors have quit in recent months. The grocery giant is meanwhile expected to unveil a further decline in its UK sales next week.

Home prices end 2011 on low note

Britain's virtually moribund housing market ended 2011 on a low as prices fell 0.9 per cent in December, according to Halifax. The latest slip left prices down 1.3 per cent for the year overall, with the average UK home costing £160,063. Prices are still 20 per cent below their August 2007 peak.

Squeezed budgets hit new car sales

Hard-up households steered clear of new cars last year, prompting a 14 per cent slide in private sales. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' latest figures showed 823,094 sales in 2011, well down on the 958,005 registered in 2010, when the scrappage scheme was operating.

Bolton loses £1m in his own fund

The fund manager Anthony Bolton lost £1m of his own fortune last year by backing his struggling Fidelity China Special Situations trust, according to the broker Collins Stewart. Shares in the £570m trust – launched in 2009 – had a torrid 2011, falling 36 per cent.

EasyJet flies high after Ryanair cuts

EasyJet has posted buoyant December passenger numbers, suggesting it is picking up some of those that rival Ryanair has left behind after grounding 80 aircraft this winter due to high fuel prices. EasyJet's passenger numbers rose 4 per cent to 4.1 million in December.

Terrace Hill pulls plug on housing

The developer Terrace Hill has decided to sell its portfolio of homes as it concentrates on the commercial market, particularly supermarkets. It expects to take up to 18 months to sell its portfolio of 1,400 flats, about half of which are in the South-east.

Horta-Osorio back at his desk

Lloyds Banking Group boss Antonio Horta-Osorio will return to work on Monday after extreme fatigue forced him to take a two-month leave of absence. The Portuguese-born banker admitted that he "could not switch off".