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The Business Matrix: Thursday 1 September 2011

WH Smith returns £50m to investors

The stationery and sweets retailer WH Smith said it plans to buy back up to another £50m worth of its shares in the year to August 2012, on top of the £55m repurchased during the financial year just ended. The buyback is designed to boost the value of the stock for shareholders by decreasing the number of shares in issue.

Swiss bankers avoid bonus cap

A Swiss parliamentary committee has voted in favour of tough capital standards for UBS and Credit Suisse, but rejected a proposal to cap bonuses at the big banks. Switzerland – where the two banks’ balance sheets are four times the country’s economic output – wants the banks to hold a high “capital” buffer of 19 per cent against losses.

Potter studios to delist its shares

Harry Potter and James Bond film studios owner Pinewood Shepperton is set to delist its shares after property firm Peel Holdings and jeweller Warren James both increased their shareholding earlier this year. The two equity holders now own 98 per cent of the business, meaning it no longer satisfies the Stock Exchange listing rules.

Safestore packing the customers in

Safestore, which has sites in the UK and Paris, has posted a 7 per cent rise in quarterly revenues to £24m, and dismissed fears that tough economic climate is affecting its business. The self-storage firm said more people were using its services and its occupancy is 3.15 million square feet, representing 63 per cent of available area.

Chesnara eyes more takeovers

Chesnara, which competes with Phoenix to buy life insurers that no longer accept new customers, is on the lookout for deals after predicting new solvency rules for insurers would result in opportunities. The firm, which bought Save & Prosper last year, reported a fall in six-month profits to £4m from £12m.

FT pulls apps from Apple store

The Financial Times has pulled its iPad and iPhone apps from Apple’s App Store. Apple has begun insisting subscriptions go through its store, giving Apple valuable data about customers as well as a third of revenues. The FT has instead developed a web-based app for subscribers to use on Apple products.

Bwin.party profits fall by 3% to £352m

The online gaming firm Bwin.party today revealed a drop in profits after it was dealt a blow from greater competition in poker markets. The owner of Foxy Bingo and PartyPoker, in its first results since Bwin and PartyGaming merged in March, said its half-yearly sales fell 3 per cent to €398 (£352m).

888 Holdings sees sharp rise in sales

888 Holdings said performance improved at its poker, casino and bingo units as half-yearly sales rose 18 per cent to $154m (£94m) and profits rose 59 per cent to $20m. Shares in 888, whose adverts feature Shane Warne, slipped to 30.5p, having hit 50p in April before Ladbrokes abandoned a takeover bid.

Portugal raises top rates of tax

Portugal plans to introduce temporary extra tax rates for high-earning companies and households to help to meet budget goals under its €78bn (£69bn) bailout. The extra rate will be 2.5 per cent for households in the top income-tax bracket and 3 per cent for companies earning more than €1.5m.

Compromise seen on Greek debt

Eurozone countries are discussing ways to charge fees on any collateral Greece would use to back bailout loans, a move that could resolve a nasty row over a second rescue package, the Austrian finance minister, Maria Fekter, told Reuters. Finland has demanded collateral as a condition for backing a bailout.

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