The Business Matrix: Thursday 18 September 2014


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Sales up 5.6% at Zara owner

The Spanish owner of fashion chain Zara posted a fall in first-half profits but still beat forecasts. Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer, with 6,400 shops, made profits of €928m (£738m), down from €951m last year. But sales rose 5.6 per cent to €8.1bn. Inditex will be trading online in 27 countries by the end of the month.

Sky Deutschland rejects BSkyB bid

Sky Deutschland’s independent shareholders rejected BSkyB’s €6.75 (£5.36)-a-share offer, after the board said the bid was too low. Those close to BSkyB said they would still be able to press ahead with its £5.35bn merger of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, claiming their 57 per cent and 100 per cent control respectively will be sufficient.

China slowdown hits Richemont

The Swiss giant behind Montblanc pens and Cartier watches is the latest group to reveal a sales slowdown as demand in China wanes. Richemont, owner of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels and fashion labels such as Chloé, had the worst start to a year since 2009 with sales up just 1 per cent in the past five months.

Car sales in Europe rise 1.8%

Europe’s roads are set to be busier after car sales rose 1.8 per cent in August. Volkswagen, Ford and Opel, Vauxhall’s foreign branding, had stronger sales in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, and new car registrations in the EU and the European Free Trade Area rose to 701,118 in August, according to the Association of European Carmakers.

Chemring looks to rise in orders

Chemring, which makes heavy munitions and bomb detectors, said underlying sales fell to £77.5m in the past three months, down from £110.5m a year earlier. Its order book was 3.9 per cent higher than in April at £417.5m; Chemring noted that the outlook for defence spending was improving.

Peltz calls for DuPont break-up

Veteran US investor Nelson Peltz is calling for a break-up of the 212-year-old chemical giant DuPont. Mr Peltz, who has a $1.6bn (£1bn) stake in DuPont, wants the group to spin off its nutrition, agriculture and industrial biosciences units. It is already selling its chemicals unit, maker of material such as Teflon.

Punch  swaps  debt for equity

Punch Tavern shareholders finally backed a deal to reduce its debts after the pub group overspent before the recession. It ends two years of negotiations and cuts £2.26bn debts by £600m in a debt-for-equity swap that leaves bondholders with 85 per cent of the company.

Gazprom failing to meet EU demand

The Russian energy giant Gazprom has said it is unable to meet rising gas demand from Europe, undermining Europe’s ability to supply Ukraine with gas. Countries including Poland and Austria have reported slight falls in shipments in recent days from Russia.

Dignity pays £54m to shareholders

Dignity, the UK’s largest provider of funeral services, is to return £54m to shareholders after taking advantage of low interest rates to reorganise its debt repayments. The group owns 690 funeral parlours and 69 crematoria.

IG Group posts  9% fall in revenue

The financial spread-betting firm IG Group has posted a 9 per cent fall in first-half revenue to £85.6m. The company said low volume and volatility in the financial markets – thanks partly to low interest rates – had hit its revenues.