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The Business Matrix: Thursday 16 May 2013

Sun-seekers lift easyJet shares

Shares in easyJet flew up 8 per cent to a fresh high yesterday as sun-seeking fliers helped to halve its first-half losses and the budget carrier announced a fresh drive to steal corporate customers from BA. Business travellers who buy the airline's more flexible but more expensive "flexi fares" will get free access to fast-track security lanes.

Leoni Sceti named as new Iglo boss

Iglo Group, the owner of Birds Eye, has named Elio Leoni Sceti as its new chief executive. The 47-year-old Italian is best known for his 18 months in charge of EMI Music. He left weeks after EMI's parent posted a £1.75bn annual pre-tax loss. His previous career focused on consumer goods and included a spell at Procter & Gamble.

US pushes profits north at Compass

Strong demand from North America helped pre-tax profits at Compass, the world's biggest caterer, rise 8 per cent to £611m for the six months to April. But Compass, which sells thousands of strawberries each summer at Wimbledon and serves four billion meals a year, said demand in Europe and Japan was down.

IG Metall strikes Bavarian pay deal

Germany's IG Metall engineering union has secured a key deal with employers for a two-stage wage increase for metal and electrical workers in Bavaria. The deal will serve as a basis for a nationwide agreement for 3.7 million employees. The agreement runs for 20 months.

MegaFon beats its earnings forecasts

MegaFon, the Russian mobile operator backed by Russia's richest man, Alisher Usmanov, has raised its core profit margin guidance after beating earnings forecasts and announcing a lavish dividend. The company listed in London last winter.

Garfunkel's owner relishes Q1 sales

The group that owns brands including Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's said trading for the first 19 weeks of its financial year had been strong, with total sales up a "very satisfactory" 11 per cent and like-for-like sales 4.5 per cent stronger.

Trade looking good at Lookers

Car retailer Lookers has reported "excellent" trading for the quarter to March, with results ahead of budget and significantly better than they were a year earlier. New car retail sales increased by 13 per cent, which was 2 per cent ahead of the market.

Barratt in £850m refinancing deal

Barratt Developments has agreed a refinancing that will give it committed borrowing facilities of £850m for up to eight years. The process was finished a year ahead of schedule. Average underlying interest was cut from 7 per cent to 4.5 per cent as the house builder's financial position strengthened.

Sales flat at French Connection UK

Fashion retailer French Connection said that underlying sales in its UK retail arm were broadly flat. A strong performance in the early weeks of the year was followed by softer trading in March. The trend has improved again recently and the retailer continues to reap the benefits from turnaround initiatives instigated last year.

Vocal problem won't stop Page

Google CEO Larry Page has disclosed a problem with his vocal cords that makes it difficult for him to speak and breathe occasionally, but he says he remains fit enough to keep running the internet's most influential company. Page says his left vocal cord has been paralysed since he came down with a severe cold 14 years ago.

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