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The Business Matrix: Thursday 17 May 2012

350 Clintons stores to close

Nearly 3,000 jobs are to be axed after the administrators of Clinton Cards announced plans to close 350 stores yesterday. All of the group's Birthdays stores and roughly 200 Clintons-branded stores will close after administrators said the business was "burdened with an untenable retail estate". The store closures will continue into June.

Wet weather boon for Cineworld

Disney's superhero movie The Avengers and a wet bank holiday weekend proved the perfect combination for the UK's largest cinema operator. Cineworld, which has 79 cinemas and 811 screens, said admissions rose 3.3 per cent in the 19 weeks to 10 May, with the first two weeks of Marvel's Avengers Assemble helping draw in the crowds.

Bovis predicts strong growth

The housebuilder Bovis reported strong trading in the 19 weeks to 11 May, with a 33 per cent increase in private net reservations to 783. It said market conditions remained stable and that it was confident of its prospects for 2012, which would see margins and average sale prices increase if current trends continued.

Speedy Hire is back in the black

Speedy Hire returned to the black with annual profits of £3.2m compared to losses of £27m a year ago. The equipment rental firm has benefited from controlling costs and from growing revenues in its core regulated infrastructure markets of water, waste, energy and transport.

Bonus angers investors in 888

A sizeable 13 per cent minority of shareholders in online gaming firm 888 Holdings withheld support for it pay policy yesterday amid concerns about an "extraordinary" 170 per cent cash bonus for its FD. The founders still control 60 per cent of 888.

Facebook IPO to rise by 25%

Facebook has increased the size of its initial public offering by almost 25 per cent as strong investor demand in the US for the social network trumps debate about its long-term potential to make money. The additional shares will be sold by early investors including the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, and Tiger Global Management.

City ban for 'Pied Piper' broker

The "pied piper" broker who lured 10 of his colleagues away from the broker Tullett Prebon to a rival, BGC Partners, has been banned from working in the City. Tony Verrier, the Financial Services Authority said, was "not a fit and proper person due to concerns over his honesty, integrity and reputation". Mr Verrier is appealing the case.

Times still hard, warns Icap CEO

Michael Spencer, the chief executive of broking giant Icap, yesterday warned "the last four years have been the worst time in financial markets and we are certainly not out of it yet". Unveiling a 1 per cent rise in annual profits to £354m, thanks to cost cuts, he added: "There is no short-term light at the end of the tunnel."

Pearson snaps up Certiport for £87m

Pearson has bought the US-based IT examination company Certiport from the private equity firm Spire Capital Partners for £87m. The move will extend the product range and geographic reach of Pearson's professional testing business, Pearson VUE.

Georgia on track for $250m IPO

Georgia plans to raise up to $250m selling as much as a quarter of its state railway monopoly in a London initial public offering this month, as it looks to raise Georgian Railways' international profile and fund its long-term development.

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