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The Business Matrix: Thursday 12 December 2013

Peugeot Citroen sells 40% stake

French carmaker Peugeot Citroen’s board has approved a plan for Chinese car firm Dongfeng and the French government each to take a 20 per cent stake in the business, according to reports. Peugeot, one of the carmakers worst hit by the European market slump, is cutting jobs and plants to try to halt losses within two years.

Etihad mulls share in Alitalia

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is examining troubled Italian airline Alitalia’s books and is expected to decide by Christmas whether to take a stake in the firm, according to sources.

Alitalia offers access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market and flies 25 million passengers a year. Etihad can take a stake of up to 49 per cent.

Budget deficit falls to £84bn

The US budget deficit narrowed sharply in November from a year earlier to $135bn (£84bn), down 21 per cent on a year earlier. Analysts expected a wider deficit. The figures are the latest to show a dramatic improvement in public finances, which have been aided by tax hikes, faster job growth and government spending cuts.

Monitise doubles revenue again

Monitise, whose technology enables payments via mobile phone, doubled revenue for the fourth year in a row in 2013. Revenue jumped 102 per cent to £72.6m, while payments made through its system increase 120 per cent to $50bn (£30bn). Acquisitions and litigation costs in the US meant losses widened to £51m from £16.9m.

Traynor warns of firms going under

Begbies Traynor, one of the world’s biggest insolvency firms, warned more companies would go under as the economy recovers. Chairman Ric Traynor predicted banks would become “more proactive” in tackling issues at companies they lend to when the super-low interest rate environment ends.

Debenhams: new female director

Debenhams department store has promoted its trading director Suzanne Harlow to the board. She has been with the firm since 1994 and will become the retailer’s first female board-level executive director. Debenhams has two female non-executive directors in Martina King and Sophie Turner Laing.

Monarch thrives in tight EU market

Airline Monarch said the short-haul European market would get tougher as competition from larger rivals Ryanair and easyJet mounts, eclipsing any benefits from Britain’s economic recovery. But it still returned to profit after making annual cost savings of £52 m.

FirstGroup resists call for US sale

FirstGroup has defied demands by a US investor demanding it sell its North American operations including the Greyhound buses business. Sandell Asset Management, which owns 3 per cent of FirstGroup, called for a spin-off of the US school bus and Greyhound operations.

Germany speeds sector reforms

Germany is said to be attempting to fast-track European rules to make the banking industry safer. Berlin is pressing for laws making large depositors and bondholders, rather than taxpayers, liable for bank collapses as early as 2016, reports said.

India moves to reduce inflation

Tackling India’s soaraway inflation will be a main priority for the country, the Finance Minister and central bank governor declared. High prices were cited as one of the main factors  behind the Congress Party’s drubbing in state elections.

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