The Business Matrix: Thursday 1 March 2012


BA owner warns on Olympics

The owner of British Airways (BA) – the official airline of the 2012 Olympics – has warned that the Games will "dampen" demand for its flights, particularly in the lucrative business market. The warning came as International Airlines Group, which owns BA, posted an operating profit of €485m (£408.6m) for 2011, more than double the previous year.

Blackstone boss's pay tops $200m

Stephen Schwarzman, the founder of Blackstone, took home $213.5m last year in pay and dividends on his stake in the private-equity giant. Mr Schwarzman's haul was 33 per cent higher than in 2010, thanks largely to dividends on his 21 per cent ownership of the company and realised investments from funds that predate its flotation in 2007.

'Persistent' inflation fears

Martin Weale voiced fears over "persistent" inflation yesterday in a hawkish speech underlining the growing splits at the Bank of England over the path of monetary policy. Mr Weale, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, voted for interest rate hikes at the Bank's meeting last year before Europe's debt crisis exploded last summer.

Court frees Lehman funds

Billions of dollars locked inside Lehman Brothers' European arm can be returned to clients in the US and around the world, following a ruling by the UK Supreme Court. It declared they had rights to reclaim the money, even though Lehman Europe had not kept it separate from the rest of the bankrupt firm's operations.

'Chunky' faces investigation

A Goldman Sachs executive who goes by the nickname "Chunky but Funky", is under investigation in the US for aiding insider trading by the bank's hedge fund clients. The FBI is examining whether David Loeb, a Goldman managing director, passed illegal tips about technology company stocks to hedge fund traders.

Taylor Wimpey back in the black

Taylor Wimpey is paying its first dividend in nearly five years as the housebuilder marks its recovery from the disastrously timed merger which nearly sent the firm under. The firm will pay a final dividend to shareholders of 0.38p after moving into the black with pre-tax profits of £89.9m last year.

National Express enjoys profit rise

National Express posted a 12 per cent rise in profits of a record £180m as soaring petrol costs pushed more people on to public transport. The bus and train operator just three years ago tapped investors for £360m and abandoned its loss-making East Coast Main Line rail franchise.

Chartered raising the standard

Standard Chartered, the emerging markets-focused bank, beat forecasts with an 11 per cent rise in profits to £3.8bn last year, the ninth year of increased profit. Profits fell in Korea, where the bank was hit by strikes, but this was offset by strong growth in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Weir Group sees surge in profits

The pumps and valves maker Weir Group posted a 34 per cent surge in pre-tax profits to £396m for 2011, as strong demand from the booming US shale and oil gas industry pushed up revenues by 40 per cent to £2.3bn.

Chiquito's owners to create 600 jobs

The owner of Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito plans to open up to 30 restaurants this year, creating about 600 jobs. The Restaurant Group's expansion follows an 11 per cent rise in profits to £60m last year as revenues from its 400 sites hit £487m.