The Business Matrix: Thursday 13 October 2011

Rockhopper to raise £50m

Rockhopper Exploration, the AIM-listed oil company, plans to raise up to £50m in a share placing to help fund exploration around the Falkland Islands. It has also struck a deal with Desire Petroleum to buy a 52.5 per cent stake in a licence as it believes its key oilfield, the Sea Lion discovery, extends into that licence.

Unemployment at 17-year high

Unemployment has hit a 17-year high after more than 100,000 people joined the ranks of those looking for a job. Youth unemployment reached a record 991,000, while the numbers claiming jobseeker’s allowance rose to 1.6 million. There was also a record 74,000 fall in the number of over-65s in employment. MORE

Glencore in Brussels court

A subsidiary of the giant commodities trader Glencore faced a Brussels courtroom yesterday at the start of a criminal case involving allegations of corruption. This is said to include giving lavish presents to an EU official in exchange for information. Officials hope to conclude the case by the end of June. It covers facts dating from 1999 to 2003.

Patent profits at RWS Holdings

Patent translator RWS Holdings said revenues this year would rise by at least 8 per cent to approximately £65m, reflecting good organic growth in the core patent translations business, a turnaround in Germany and strong growth in China. The group added profits will be in line with market expectations and substantially ahead of 2010.

Oil prices head upwards again

The price of the benchmark Brent crude oil rose by more than $2 (£1.25) yesterday as traders fretted about news of the Iranian plot in Washington and the dollar fell against the euro on news from Bratislava. In the afternoon, Brent, which briefly fell below $100 a barrel earlier this month, was at $112.48.

Sales slow at Travis Perkins

Sales at Wickes owner Travis Perkins are slowing as the economic squeeze deters people from buying new kitchens and bathrooms. The builders merchant and DIY group said like-for-like sales overall rose by 5.9 per cent in the nine months to 30 September, compared to a 7.2 per cent rise in the first six months.

ATH sees increase in volumes

ATH, which has surface coal mines in East Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Fife, said annual profits will be close to forecasts after second half sales volumes increased to 960,000 tonnes and prices rose by 15 per cent. But its bottom line will be hit by a £1.6m provision for higher gas, oil and tyre costs.

Centrica proposes biomass plant

Centrica wants to start an 80MW biomass power plant by 2016 on the site of a gas-fired power station in Cumbria. It plans to burn wood fibres such as pellets and chips, sourced from the UK where possible. The existing 230MW Roosecote gas-fired power plant will close in the middle of this decade.

Travelodge to expand in London

Hotel chain Travelodge has launched a £223m expansion programme across London. The company plans to open 26 hotels over the next 24 months. The investment will create 710 new jobs, with hotels opening at the rate of one per month. Ten hotels are due to open between now and the Olympics.

Sportingbet takes over Danish firms

Sportingbet is buying two Danish sports-betting firms for up to £8.5m as the online gaming company seeks to tap the less risky, regulated markets. The acquisition of Danbook and Scandic Bookmakers comes two days after Britain’s biggest betting firm, Ladbrokes, called off takeover talks with Sportingbet.