The Business Matrix: Saturday 8 September 2012


Debt disaster on the horizon

Japan could run out of money within three months as a political row threatens to derail its fundraising powers. In a parallel with clashes between Democrats and Republicans in the US over its debt ceiling, Japan's opposition are refusing to sign off a Y5trn (£39bn) debt-raising bill amid arguments over timing of the next general election.

July delivers surge in output

Industry roared back from a Jubilee slump with the biggest surge for 25 years in July, but inflation fears remain. Output jumped 2.9 per cent over the month, the biggest leap since 1987 and twice as fast as expected, after losing 2.4 per cent in a June hit by two extra days off.

Analysts said the holidays had been the dominant factor.

Cobham seals £9m Apache deal

Cobham has announced a contract to supply parts for a US Army Apache Helicopters under a £9m, five-year contract.

Cobham will provide a new configuration of Nitrogen Inert Unit (NIU) that will increase safety, improve supportability, and extend sustainment for another 30 years.

Profits on the rise for SThree

The staffing business SThree reported a slight rise in gross profit from £50.2m to £51.3m in the three months to 26 August. The group, which owns brands covering recruitment in several sectors, reported particularly strong performances from energy & resources and pharmaceuticals & biotechnology.

Committee starts JP Morgan probe

An influencial US Senate committee has opened its own inquiry into £3bn plus of losses run by JP Morgan's so-called London Whale trader. The permanent sub-committee on investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin, is interviewing current and former employees of JP Morgan's chief investment office.

NHS keen to place trust in Interserve

Interserve has been named preferred bidder to provide a range of services to NHS trusts in the Midlands. The contract has a potential value of up to £300m and will run for seven years.

Interserve would provide a full suite of support services to the NHS trusts of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Healthy revenue boost for Urenco

Urenco, which enriches uranium for nuclear power utilities, reported a 32 per cent rise in half-yearly revenues to £554m. The firm, which has enrichment plants in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and US, said underlying earnings in the period rose 51 per cent to £367m.

Ageas snaps up Groupama UK

Ageas, the Belgian insurer offering car, household and travel cover with partners like Tesco, is buying the UK arm of Groupama. After taking a big hit on its Greek debt holdings, France's Groupama is engaged in a firesale of assets including its non-life business in the UK.

Court documents accuse BP chiefs

BP bosses wanted to put the blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster on "blue-collar rig workers" in order to save themselves, US government lawyers have alleged. The claim emerged in court documents.

School return joy for John Lewis

John Lewis saw strong growth last week as a surge of "back-to-school" shopping lifted sales of fashion and technology across the country. The employee-owned group said sales rose 15 per cent to £71m.