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The Business Matrix: Thursday 13 March 2014


AstraZeneca sells Cheshire site

The drugs giant AstraZeneca has sold its Alderley Park site in Cheshire as part of plans announced last year to establish a new global research centre and corporate HQ in Cambridge in 2016. The new owner, Manchester Science Parks, plans to ensure that the 400-acre site remains a life science and biotechnology campus.

Adecco sees first rise in two years

Europe’s biggest recruitment agency gave hope that the  painfully high unemployment gripping the region could soon ease as quarterly sales grew for the first time in nearly two years. Adecco had sales 4 per cent up at €4.9bn (£4.1bn) in the final quarter of last year, and  5 per cent up in January  and February.

Ferrexpo earnings  soar to £305m

The stand-off between Ukraine and Russia poses less of a  threat to business than a slowing Chinese economy, Ukrainian iron ore miner Ferrexpo said yesterday.  The London-listed and Swiss-based company beat City expectations with underlying earnings for 2013 up 25 per cent to $506m (£305m).

Helen Jones joins Halfords board

Halfords has appointed Helen Jones, a former managing director of the restaurant chain Zizzi, to its board. Ms Jones, who also ran the ice-cream  Ben & Jerry’s in the UK, will be a non-executive on the bike and car accessory seller’s board. She will sit on its  audit, remuneration and  nomination committee.

Innovia to supply UK banknotes 

Innovia Security has entered into a contract to supply the polymer material for new-style £5 and £10 notes from 2016. It will establish a plant at Wigton, Cumbria, to produce polymer for the banknotes, which will continue to be printed at the Bank of England’s printing works in Debden, Essex.

Grabiner to head BoE inquiry 

The Bank of Engand said its oversight committee has appointed lawyer Lord Grabiner QC to lead its investigation into the role of Bank officials in relation to conduct issues in the foreign exchange market. His work will be supported by law firm Travers Smith and cover a period between 2005 and 2013.

Alcohol group soaks up the bids

Italy’s Campari, the Stolichnaya vodka owner SPI and private equity firm Lion and TPG are believed to be among the bidders for United Spirits’ Whyte & Mackay whisky business. Diageo is selling the unit to appease regulators after it took control of the spirits group.

Gatwick traffic up 7.7% in February

More than 2.3 million passengers used Gatwick airport in February, 7.7 per cent more than in the same month last year. Much of the growth came from business routes to Oslo, Istanbul, Moscow and Helsinki, though long-haul also grew  15.6 per cent.

Monte dei Paschi writes off £2.3bn

Monte dei Paschi, the oldest bank in the world, has written down €2.75bn (£2.3bn) in bad loans pushing it into a higher than expected €1.44bn loss. But the Italian bank’s shares jumped 4 per cent as investors welcomed its spring cleaning.

FCA supervisor role for Hoggett 

The Financial Conduct Authority has appointed Julia Hoggett to head supervision of investment banks, drawing on her experience as a managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She will start  in May.