The Business Matrix: Thursday 01 December 2011


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The Independent Online


Growth slumps to 6.9% low in India

India's economy grew at just 6.9 per cent in its second quarter, the weakest pace in more than two years, as high inflation and interest rates hit Asia's third-biggest economy. Growth in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 16 per cent of India's economy, slumped to 2.7 per cent in the three months to September, from 7.2 per cent the previous quarter.

Buffett snaps up Omaha newspaper

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett is adding his home-town newspaper in Omaha, Nebraska, to the portfolio of companies owned by his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. The Omaha World-Herald Co, which publishes the 135,000-circulation Omaha title plus other titles, is currently owned mainly by its employees.

Britvic reports profits of £105m

Britvic blamed weak demand from pubs and a wet Wimbledon as profits fell at its Robinsons to J20 UK still drinks division. But overall annual profits rose 0.5 per cent to £105m, supported by sales from its fizzy drinks division, which were up 7 per cent. Robinsons has sponsored the tennis championships for the last 76 years.

Rolls-Royce wins Brazil contract

Rolls-Royce has been awarded contracts worth a potential $650m (£418m) by Brazilian state oil and gas firm Petrobras to support its offshore production activities. The new gas turbines will be delivered in groups of four. The first are due in 2013 for use in the Lula and Guara oil fields in the Santos Basin off the coast of Brazil.

MFI back in business

The flatpack-furniture brand MFI is back in business as an online retailer – three years after its collapse left customers out of pocket. The brand, established in 1963, was salvaged from administrators by Walker Capital, the private equity owners of online bathroom retailer Victoria Plumb, for £250,000 in 2009.

MBL contract with Co-op ends

Home entertainment distributor MBL has said it no longer supplies customers including WH Smith, Best Buy and the Co-op after lower sales volumes resulted in significant falls in profitability on the contracts. The Lancashire-based firm lost a 14-year trading relationship with Morrisons earlier this year.

Banks hand Mouchel lifeline

Mouchel's annual losses trebled £65m, sending the shares plunging 27 per cent. The company, which turned down a £330m bid last year, is now worth close to £14m. Yet analysts believe the services group will survive after it was handed a lifeline by its banks, who have agreed a plan to restructure its debts.

AEA agrees new covenants

Climate change consultancy AEA Technology has agreed new financial covenants with Lloyds Banking Group for 2012, helping ease fears over its future following a profits warning last week. The firm works with governments to define environmental policy and helps businesses meet regulations.

Glencore in tie-up talks with Cepsa

Glencore is believed to be in talks with Spanish refiner Cepsa on a tie-up of oil operations. Reuters reported that the commodity giant Glencore could acquire a stake in Cepsa, which is owned by Abu Dhabi investment vehicle IPIC. Abu Dhabi is also a major shareholder in Glencore.

Severstal to spin off Nord Gold

Severstal, Russia's biggest steel maker, is set to spin off its Nord Gold unit and could list the standalone business in London, less than a year after it pulled a £968m public offering. The company, 82 per cent-owned by Russia's second-richest man – Alexei Mordashov – aims to complete the separation by late January.