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The Business Matrix: Thursday 13 December 2012

Puma chief quits after slowdown

The chief executive of Puma is to leave the German footwear giant, following a period of sustained underperformance, despite the Olympics and Euro 2012 football tournament. Franz Koch, who has been at the helm for less than two years, is to step down in March by "mutual agreement" and Puma wants to find his replacement by next spring.

Firms warned over PPI texts

Claims-management companies that bombard people with payment protection insurance and accident texts have been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority. In a ruling revealed yesterday, the ASA upheld complaints that texts sent by the Mumbai-based firm Data Supplier were misleading and unsolicited.

PetroChina buys BHP stake for £1bn

China has stepped up its worldwide hunt for gas to keep its 1.3 billion population warm. PetroChina, the Hong Kong-listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, paid London-listed mining giant BHP Billiton $1.63bn (£1.01bn) for stakes in two Australian projects, its biggest investment Down Under for two years.

M&A spending falls by two-thirds

The value of mergers and acquisitions deals completed in the UK has fallen by two-thirds since the start of the financial crisis, according to the accountancy firm Ernst & Young. With companies loath to spend, the total value of deals across the UK has reached £82.79bn so far this year, 65 per cent lower than during the credit boom of 2007.

Travis Perkins hit by fall in DIY sales

Travis Perkins, the retail-to-building group posted a slump in underlying sales at its DIY chain Wickes over the past 11 months.But the group, which runs the eponymous builders' merchants chain, did better in its other divisions, suggesting spending among tradesmen is proving more resilient in the downturn.

Berkshire in $1.2bn shares buyback

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway spent $1.2bn (£971.5m) yesterday to buy back shares from the estate of an unnamed investor. The conglomerate also raised the threshold for future buybacks, in a move that was read as indicating a greater willingness by Mr Buffet to support the company's share price.

Chinese demand fires Imagination

Surging demand for cheap, low-end smartphones in China is driving growth at Imagination Technologies, the designer of chips and graphic processors in Apple's iPhone and iPad. Its chief executive, Hossein Yassaie, said the company is also seeing signs of recovery in the West.

Cuts loom as Darty flickers into red

Alan Parker is preparing to wield the axe at European electricals chain Darty, which he chairs. After the electricals group swung into the red in the first half Mr Parker said he would review its loss-making operations in Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Turkey.

Zara owner sees profits surge 27%

The Spanish group behind the fashion giant Zara has boosted profits by more than a quarter, driven by a sharp rise in sales from new stores. Inditex, which added 360 stores in 54 countries in the last nine months, posted a 27 per cent rise in net income.

One Media buys Men & Motors

Fans of digital TV channel Men & Motors, which closed two years ago, will be able to watch some of its shows again. One Media, the digital rights group, has bought up its entire library of rights from Granada and ITV for an undisclosed sum.

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