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The Business Matrix: Thursday 1 May 2014

BT to continue free football offer

BT will provide its sports  channels for free to British broadband customers for the next football season, for a second year in a row as it hopes to take the battle to rival broadcaster BSkyB, having invested £2bn in sports rights. The company also revealed that its customers have topped 5 million for the first time.

UK loses court challenge on tax

Europe’s highest court rejected the UK’s challenge to the so-called Robin Hood tax yesterday, although it noted that the Government can still challenge it at a later date. The Government is looking to block a levy on stock and bond trades by 11 European countries, saying it would also hit trades involving banks in London.

Guilty verdict for Dolce & Gabbana

Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and their accountant have been found guilty of tax evasion and have been given an 18-month suspended jail sentence. The trio were sentenced to 20 months in prison last June for failing to file tax declarations. Lawyers said they would appeal again.

Sorrell’s £29.8m earnings last year

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, earned £29.8m last year, up 70 per cent on a year earlier. Three-quarters of it came from a £22.7m long-term share award. The advertising giant, which has seen shareholder protests over its pay policy for bosses, has since axed the share scheme and cut Sir Martin’s salary and pension

Investors back Aviva payouts

Aviva’s investors backed its executive pay awards at the insurer’s annual meeting in London yesterday – just two years after a shareholder rebellion led to the resignation of the chief executive, Andrew Moss. More than 98 per cent of  shareholders voted in favour of  the awards.

Merck deal talks off, says Reckitt

Reckitt Benckiser is no longer in active talks with Merck about buying its consumer health business, the company said yesterday, suggesting the price was too high. “We are a highly disciplined acquirer with strict return metrics, which we will not break,” Reckitt Benckiser’s chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said.

Wild secures top job at Domino’s

Domino’s Pizza served up a permanent job to David Wild, the former Halfords boss who has been interim chief executive at Domino’s since January.  Mr Wild stepped up after former boss Lance Batchelor left in March to join travel group and insurer Saga.

Sales on the  rise at baker Greggs

Bakery chain Greggs said sales lifted 3.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 17 weeks to  26 April as it benefited from softer comparisons with a year earlier, as well as longer opening hours, a new coffee blend and improved availability of  fresh sandwiches.

Annuity sales hit at Standard Life

Standard Life saw a 50 per cent slump in annuity sales since the Chancellor announced plans to scrap compulsory annuities in last month’s Budget. Its assets under management grew by  1.5 per cent to £247.8bn during the first three months of the year.

BNP warning sees shares tumble

Shares in BNP Paribas fell after warning it may have to pay far more than the $1.1bn (£651m) it has set aside for allegedly breaking US sanctions over Iran. BNP also reported a 5.2 per cent rise in first-quarter, after-tax profits to €1.67bn (£1.37bn).

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