The Business Matrix: Thursday 14 April 2011

Irish Life hires a man from the Pru

Irish Life & Permanent, the troubled insurance group, has hired the former chief operating officer of Prudential as its new chairman. Alan Cook replaces long-standing chair Gillian Bowler, who announced her decision to retire in December last year.

German banks get extra time for data

German lenders will receive an extension until Tuesday to supply financial data for pan-European stress tests, the Bundesbank said yesterday. The 13 German banks taking part initially had until last night to supply the data.

Indian telecoms trial begins

India’s former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja went on trial yesterday alongside six business executives charged with manipulating the granting of mobile phone licences in the country. Mr Raja was arrested in February after being forced to resign last year.

BmiBaby cuts British flights

Budget airline BmiBaby is to stop flying from Cardiff and Manchester after the end of this summer, blaming the tricky economic climate. The group currently runs 30 flights per week from Cardiff and 40 from Manchester.

Toyota shutdown on parts shortage

Toyota is slowing production at its UK factories as a result of parts shortages caused by the devastating earthquake in Japan. The shutdown will affect Toyota’s Burnaston car plant and the company’s Deeside engine factory, as well as extending to the car manufacturer’s facilities in Poland, Turkey and France.

Filtronic warns on this year’s trading

The mobile phone equipment maker Filtronic has warned of lower sales, blaming customers phasing out older technology faster than it had been expecting. Its 2011 profits will now be about £12m, it said.

IMF cautious on banking system

Confidence in the world banking system has yet to be fully restored, with many advanced countries “living dangerously”, the International Monetary Fund warned yesterday. Banks in Europe were especially “weak”, with about a third of the EU’s lenders operating with inadequate capital buffers. The Fund also struck a note of caution on the potential risks posed by “overheating” emerging markets. MORE

ECB policymaker signals rate rises

Last week’s European Central Bank (ECB) move to raise interest rates was not an “isolated decision”, a senior European policymaker said yesterday, suggesting further monetary tightening may be on the agenda. ECB Governing Council member Luc Coene signalled that the increase in European interest rates to 1.25 per cent last Thursday could be followed up with further rises as the central bank seeks to “bring rates to a normal level”.

Iceland ratings at risk, S&P warns

Iceland’s credit ratings could be downgraded because its voters rejected repaying the UK and the Netherlands for money spent compensating savers for the collapse of Landsbanki. The country currently commands a “BBB-/A-3” foreign currency rating, one notch above “junk” status. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said it put Iceland on its list for a possible downgrade due to higher economic risks after the “no” vote.

JP Morgan posts best ever quarter

JP Morgan Chase, the US bank led by chief executive Jamie Dimon, enjoyed its most profitable quarter ever as soaring investment banking fees helped generate net income of $5.6bn (£3.4bn) for the first quarter of 2011.

JD Sports warns on retail outlook

JD Sports Fashion added to the anxiety of retailers yesterday, warning that it was “extremely cautious” about its outlook for the sector, despite posting a sharp jump in annual profits. In addition to the ongoing squeeze on consumer spending, the sportswear retailer said the recent VAT rise means its profits will be £16m lower for the 12 months to 28 January 2012, if it achieves the same level of sales as last year. MORE

Fujitsu takes on BT over rural fibre

Fujitsu will compete with BT for subsidies as it prepares a £2bn roll-out of super-fast broadband in rural areas. The Japanese group yesterday said it had the backing of Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco as it seeks to build a fibre network in the UK. The plan hinges on it accessing some of the £530m earmarked by the Government for broadband investment in rural communities. MORE

Huawei to double UK workforce

The Chinese electronics giant Huawei plans to double its workforce to 1,000 over the next three years as part of a strategy to expand its IT and consumer business. The company will be recruiting engineers, sales people and managers, as well as creating a further 1,000-plus subcontracting roles across the UK.

Ex-Tesco director chairs Go Outdoors

Colin Holmes, a former director at Tesco, has replaced John Lovering as chairman of Go Outdoors. The new role for Mr Holmes was unveiled as the private equity firm 3i invested £28m to take a minority stake in the outdoor retailer.