The Business Matrix: Thursday 02 February 2012


Game may sell overseas shops

Game Group has appointed advisers at Rothschild to examine offloading parts of, or its entire, international operation. The troubled computer games retailer has 663 stores overseas, including in France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Australia, but the division made an operating loss of £15.8m in the year to 31 January 2011.

It is unclear which parts of Game's overseas business are up for sale. Sources told Retail Week magazine that it is likely the retailer will aim to sell all territories, either piecemeal or in one deal.

Game, which has 610 UK shops, posted another profit warning last month and said it expects to breach certain banking covenant tests on 27 February. On a more positive note, the retailer said it expected to have £120m of cash on its balance sheet for the financial year just ended. Game's share price fell by 0.11p, or 2.1 per cent, to 5.13p yesterday, reflecting the City's long-term concerns over its future.

Underlying sales at Game in the UK and Republic of Ireland fell 15.2 per cent over the eight weeks to 7 January, compared with a decline of 12 per cent over the longer 49 weeks.

BP loses oil spill damages case

BP has suffered a further blow in its bid to share the billions of dollars of costs arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. A United States judge ruled that it must cover all compensatory damages claims relating to the role played by Halliburton, the group responsible for the cement casing of the failed Macondo well.

Morrisons exits race for Iceland

The grocer Morrisons did not lodge a final-round bid to acquire Iceland Foods, the frozen food chain up for sale for up to £1.5bn. The private equity firms Bain Capital and BC Partners are thought to be the only two parties to submit second-round bids by Tuesday's deadline.

Growth forecast for Ireland

Ireland is expected to be the only peripheral European country to post economic growth this year, and could see consumer spending actually increase in 2013 for the first time since the financial crisis of 2007. Those were the conclusions yesterday of a Reuters poll of top economists.

Trinity Mirror to axe 75 staff

Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror is axing 75 editorial jobs as it merges staff across its three national titles, including The Sunday Mirror and The People. Journalists will work on a computer system which will allow them to write for both print and the web.

RBS confirms Hoare Govett sale

Royal Bank of Scotland has confirmed the sale of its historic UK stockbroking arm Hoare Govett to the US investment bank Jefferies. The pair have been in talks for weeks over the deal, which comes as RBS's chief executive, Stephen Hester, scales back dramatically the bank's investment banking division.

Icap sees raysof light in City

Shares in Icap, the broking giant founded by Michael Spencer, soared yesterday after it said everything in the City is not quite as gloomy as people feared. It said January had seen a recovery in business from the low levels between October and December. But it warned that electronic broking volumes were down 19 per cent on last year.

BAA forced to sell Stansted airport

Stansted airport is for sale after BAA lost its latest appeal against the Competition Commission. It is the UK's fourth busiest airport, with 18.3 million passengers in 2011, but has suffered a traffic slump in recent years. A spokesman for BAA, which owns Heathrow, said it was "disappointed by the decision".

Wind farm energy storage solution

A British company, Highview Power Storage, is developing a commercial facility that can store energy created by wind farms, potentially unlocking the conundrum of how to smooth out the peaks and troughs of generation as the wind picks up and dies down.

PM vows to fight on over £10bn deal

David Cameron has vowed to do "everything he can" to persuade India's government to change its mind over choosing France's Dassault jet ahead of the Eurofighter Typhoon for a £10bn contract, which would have safeguarded BAE jobs in the UK.