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The Business Matrix: Thursday 10 April 2014


G4S in ministers’ good books again

G4S will again be considered for government contracts after ministers said they were satisfied with the company’s efforts to overhaul itself after a series of damaging failures. The world’s biggest security group agreed last month to repay £109m to the Government after overcharging on a contract to tag criminals.

Abramovich firm hit by £341m loss

Evraz, Russia’s largest steel maker, which is part owned by Chelsea Football Club’s owner Roman Abramovich, saw its losses deepen by a third to $572m (£341m) as demand dropped across Europe. The company said 2014 had got off to a mildly positive start but warned that troubles in Ukraine could hit its business this year.

Retirement firms warn on annuities

Two retirement companies have warned of the effects of George Osborne’s decision to stop forcing people to buy annuities with pension savings. Partnership Assurance – which also revealed it had handed its chief executive a 25 per cent pay rise – and Just Retirement both admitted that sales would be hit, at least in the short term.

Car premiums drop 19% in a year

The cost of insuring a car has fallen to a four-year low as motorists benefit from a record 19 per cent drop in average premiums compared with a year ago. The Confused.com car insurance price index reveals the average cost of comprehensive car insurance in the first quarter stood at £596, a drop of £140 against this time last year.

Princeton joins IP Group’s roster

IP Group, which helps universities such as Oxford and Manchester cash in on their ideas, has added the US Ivy League college Princeton to its portfolio in an overseas tie-up. It will help develop early-stage opportunities in areas such as clean technology, medicine, human sciences and robotics.

Prezzo tables profit boost of 11%

Prezzo, which runs more than 200 restaurants and also owns Chimichanga, served up a tasty 11 per cent rise in profits last year and said it was confident about the year ahead. Pre-tax profits grew from £18.3m to £20.4m on sales up by 15 per cent at £166m. It plans to open 25 to 30 new outlets in 2014.

Pension payouts hammer Atkins

WS Atkins has that its pension burden in 2014 will be more than the £430m reported last year. The news comes just two months after the engineer Atkins, which is also the world’s 14th-biggest design firm announced a 12-year repayment plan to plug the gap.

Science in Sport set to expand

British sports nutrition firm Science in Sport has revealed a surge in sales and plans to expand into Europe. The sports specialist was buoyed by strong ecommerce sales and increased demand from retailers stocking its goods from gel packs to energy drinks.

Ladbrokes adds to Aussie gains

Ladbrokes is set to buy its second Australian bookmaker in six months with the £14m acquisition of online gambling site Betstar. It bought  Bookmaker.com.au last September as it continues to pursue overseas growth.

FCA endorses claims handling

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) gave a clean bill of health to the way insurers handle claims. The City watchdog said two-thirds of people who had made claims on household or travel insurance had been satisfied.