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The Business Matrix: Thursday 12 April 2012


BP braced for protests at AGM

BP will run the gauntlet of protests from environmentalists and investors alike at its annual meeting today. Investors are angry about its weak shares and executive pay. Protestors from the Gulf of Mexico coast are still angry about the US's worse ever oil spill, while other groups are opposed to the exploitation of Canada's tar sands.

Terry Smith pockets £7.5m

Terry Smith, one of the City's most colourful characters, picked up £7.5m in pay, bonuses and dividends last year as chief executive of broker Tullett Prebon. That was despite taking a modest cut in his annual bonus as pre-tax profits at Tullett fell 9 per cent to £136m and it shed 180 staff in an effort to cut costs in tough financial markets.

Stagecoach bus boss to step down

One of Stagecoach's former bus conductors, who rose tobe boss of the transport firm's bus business over a 40-year career, will retire next May. Les Warneford has been managing director of Stagecoach's UK bus division for 12 years but started his career as a conductor, driver and then traffic officer.

Former BP exec makes comeback

Maxim Barsky, the executive best known for quitting oil giant BP's Russian joint venture after missing out on the top job, is making a comeback with a £4.6m investment in the Russia-focused company Matra Petroleum. Mr Barsky was deputy chief executive at TNK-BP until he left in October. He will take a 29.8 per cent stake in Matra.

Mad Dog devours BHP investment

The mining giant BHP Billiton is to invest $708m (£445m) to expand its Mad Dog joint venture with BP and Chevron in the Gulf of Mexico. The new facility, an extension of the existing development dubbed Mad Dog Phase 2, is expected to produce about 130,000 barrels of oil a day and be up and running in 2018.

New stores boost Dunelm revenues

A strong start to the year in January tailed off in February and March as more shoppers stayed at home, said the soft furnishing chain Dunelm. The retailer boosted its total sales by 10.7 per cent to £154.1m, thanks to its new stores. But the chain's like-for-like revenues rose by just 0.6 per cent in its third quarter.

Activist buys into medical-care firm

Activist investor Peter Gyllenhammar has near-doubled his stake in primary-medical-care provider and AIM favourite CareCapital from 5.55 million shares to 9.55 million, or 6.4 per cent, worth £48,736 at a share price of 1.5p. His move comes as the firm reorganises to focus on cancer therapeutics.

WS Atkins signals rebound in hiring

Confidence over an industry recovery in the UK encouraged Olympic engineer WS Atkins to start hiring staff in the second half of last year. The consultancy said it would hit expectations for its full-year results, explaining: "The UK region ended the year well." Britain makes up about half of Atkins's revenues.