The Business Matrix: Thursday 11 September 2014


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The Independent Online

World Cup boosts Optimal turnover

Optimal Payments, the internet payments processor which became Crystal Palace’s shirt sponsor this season, said the surge in online gambling on the World Cup boosted turnover by $5m (£3.1m) in the first half. The Aim-listed firm, which operates under the Neteller brand, said interim profits rose 54 per cent to $39m on turnover of $159m.

LSE buoyed by flotation pipeline

An “encouraging” pipeline of firms looking to float buoyed trading for the London Stock Exchange in August while revenues from share trading were also up on a year earlier. Both the FTSE indices business and the LCH.Clearnet clearing house performed well. The LSE is raising £994m to buy US index compiler Frank Russell.

Barratt to pay out £1bn in dividends

Barratt has promised to pay almost £1bn in dividends over three years as the housebuilder turned cash positive for the first time in eight years after buoyant trading; pre-tax profits have more than doubled to £391m in the year to June. The firm almost sank under £1.7bn of debts after an ill-timed deal to buy rival Wilson Bowden.

Sports Direct investors rebel

Nearly 15 per cent of investors in Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct refused to back the remuneration policy at its AGM. The retailer has repeatedly clashed with investors unhappy with Mr Ashley’s share awards. About a tenth of independent investors opposed his re-election, but he owns about 58 per cent and takes no salary.

Price war sinks McBride’s profits

McBride, the maker of own-label household cleaning products, said full-year operating profits fell to £4m in the UK, from £14.5m a year earlier, after sales were dented by the supermarket price war. The company said earlier this summer that it planned to cut a quarter of UK jobs.

France needs until  2017 to cut deficit

France conceded it would now take until 2017 to bring its finances in line with EU rules, breaking the latest in a long line of promises to its eurozone  partners. The eurozone’s second-largest economy had pledged to cut its deficit to below the EU ceiling of 3 per cent of output next year.

Ryanair ups seats filled per flight

Ryanair is flying at least six more passengers per flight this year than in 2013, thanks to improvements in customer service and the way it sells tickets. Europe’s largest low-cost carrier expects load factors to increase to “close to 86 per cent” of available seats.

Stevia’s wonder lifts PureCircle

PureCircle, the London-listed producer and marketer of natural sweetener stevia, swung from the red to a full-year profit, helped by increased sales of new stevia products. The Kuala Lumpur-based firm posted profits of  $2.58m (£1.6m) as sales rose 44 per cent to $101m.

San Miguel eyes United Biscuits

San Miguel is mulling a bid for United Biscuits, the owner of Jaffa Cakes and Twiglets. The Philippines’ most diversified conglomerate, best known for its San Miguel beer brand, sold a $1bn (£600m) stake in Philippine Airlines earlier this week.

Dubai World aims at debt restructure

The Gulf state-owned conglomerate Dubai World is offering creditors a series of incentives to lengthen a $25bn (£15.5bn) debt restructuring deal, including shares in global ports firm DP World, according to reports by Reuters last night.