The Business Matrix: Thursday 16 January 2014


H&M sales growth slows

Total December sales at the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, H&M, rose 10 per cent, in line with expectations, but down from the 21 per cent rise in November. The Swedish company added it will take into account only stores open for more than a year as web operations make calculations more complex.

Marks quits Thomas Cook

Peter Marks, former chief executive of the Co-operative Group, is quitting as a non-executive director of Thomas Cook. He joined the travel firm when it effectively took  control of Co-op Travel in 2011 and will leave  next month. Marks, who was also a director of the troubled  Co-op Bank, was paid £70,000 by Thomas Cook last year.

BoA profits soar in final quarter

Bank of America beat Wall Street forecasts in the final quarter of 2013 with post-tax profits rocketing to $3.44bn (£2.09bn) from $732m.  Much of the improvement came from the bank’s domestic consumer business and a  significant reduction in the amount it set aside to cover  bad debts.

Jupiter attracts strong inflows

Jupiter Fund Management’s assets passed the £30bn mark during the fourth quarter of 2013 as investors channelled millions into its funds. It beat expectations in the City by attracting net inflows of some £510m in thelast three months of the year, helped by fixed income and equity products performance.

Provident puts  on brave face

Doorstep lender Provident Financial has insisted it will meet profit forecasts this year, despite weak trading in its consumer credit division. The company said growth in its Vanquis Bank unit would offset the impact of weak consumer confidence in other parts of the business.

Laura Ashley doubles money

Laura Ashley has sold its stake in Moss Bros after doubling its money in six years. It sold its 9.5 million shareholding for £8m after Moss Bros revealed decent trading over Christmas yesterday. The shares were bought at between 42p and 47p in 2008. Yesterday they rose 5.5p to 96p.

Struggle for Telecom Italia

Rebel investor Marco Fossati has asked Telecom Italia  to give minority shareholders more board seats as he seeks to reduce the influence of Spain’s Telefonica over its rival. Telefonica controls Telecom Italia together with three Italian financial institutions.

Raaflaub steps down fom FINMA

The head of Switzerland’s financial regulator, Patrick Raaflaub, will step down at the end of this month as the watchdog helps Swiss banks to work with US officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes. Raaflaub’s five year stint at FINMA was controversial.

Strikes cost  France’s Total

Total lost €500m (£415m) last year at its strike-hit refining business in France. Chief  executive Christophe de Margerie revealed the figure at a hearing of the French Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee yesterday.

Sanofi searches for antibiotics

French drugmaker Sanofi  is teaming up with a German research centre to find new antibiotics in the natural world, highlighting a re-emerging interest in infectious diseases among certain pharmaceutical companies.