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The Business Matrix: Thursday 11 August 2011

European banks’ shares in freefall

Europe’s banking sector saw dramatic falls yesterday amid fears about the damage that the eurozone crisis could yet to do them. Banks in France, including Société Générale and BNP Paribas, and Italy, including Unicredit and Intesa, were hardest hit, but the confidence crisis drove markets down around the world. MORE

Global oil demand set to fall back

The slowing pace of the global economic recovery should mean that demand for oil is now lower than previously expected, the International Energy Agency said yesterday. That could result in a further fall in the price of oil, which has already come down by around $15 a barrel from the peaks that were seen earlier this year. MORE

Vodafone sells stake in India unit

Vodafone has announced a deal that will see Piramal Healthcare buy 5.5 per cent of its mobile phone business in India for $640m (£395m), a transaction that will keep the British company within the foreign ownership rules. Vodafone said Piramal had agreed to buy the stake from Essar, which is its joint venture partner in the country.

Quintain to hit target in Wembley

Quintain Estates has said the new financial year has started well with the company on its way to achieving the targets it set itself in May. The company’s biggest project is a redevelopment in Wembley, north London, where it has now secured leases for over 17 per cent of the base rent and has a further 23 per cent in negotiation.

Micro Focus sees a trading boost

Technology company Micro Focus says it is more confident it can turn around its business after a better-than-expected first quarter, strengthening its hand in ongoing takeover talks. Micro Focus said in May it was exploring several approaches, including some from US-based private equity firms.

Deloitte partners’ profits slip back

Profits paid out to partners at Deloitte fell in the year to May, as the accountancy firm saw a rising in staffing costs. UK sales rose to £2.1bn, compared to £1.95bn last year, the firm said yesterday. But the average profit per partner fell to £758,000 from £873,000 as it spent more on new staff.

HSBC sells US cards business

HSBC has agreed to sell its US credit cards business to Capital One for $2.6bn (£1.6bn) as the bank’s new chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, continues to cut back its sprawling global business. The deal will transfer $29.6bn of customer loans to the US cards specialist and will boost HSBC’s capital strength.

Standard Life profits leap ahead

Insurer Standard Life has reported a bigger-than-expected 44 per cent jump in its half-year profit, with cost cuts and stronger sales outweighing a big increase in investment in new products and technology. Edinburgh-based Standard had a pre-tax operating profit of £262m, up from £182m last year.

Sales up at French Connection

Fashion retailer French Connection said first-half profit will be in line with management expectations as it successfully weathers tough conditions on the high street. The clothing and accessories retailer said it saw growth in like-for-like sales at its UK stores despite the difficult market conditions.

Tesco fury at £10m OFT fine

Tesco came out fighting yesterday, calling for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to be broken up after the watchdog fined the supermarket chain £10m for colluding to fix cheese prices between 2002 and 2003. The UK’s biggest grocer reacted with “surprise and dismay” to the OFT’s ruling. MORE

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