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The Business Matrix: Thursday 19 July 2012

Land Securities lettings soar

Deals may be taking longer to get done, but the UK's biggest landlord Land Securities has had its best quarter for five years, its chief executive Rob Noel said yesterday. The company has signed up tenants from Jimmy Choo to broker Panmure Gordon across its London portfolio. The insurer Markel has signed for the Walkie-Talkie skyscraper.

Ethel Austin again in administration

The company behind Ethel Austin, the discount fashion retailer, has collapsed for the fourth time, putting 500 jobs in jeopardy. Duff & Phelps has been appointed as administrator and will seek to find a buyer for the company, which trades 48 shops under the Ethel Austin, and Life & Style Retail banners.

EasyJet EGM show-down

Budget airline easyJet said the emergency shareholder meeting, demanded by its biggest investor and founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, would take place on 13 August. Sir Stelios called the meeting to try to force out chairman Sir Michael Rake after he was tipped to take the top job at Barclays.

AEA Tech is 'worthless'

The climate-change firm AEA Technology finally gave up yesterday as it put itself up for sale, saying the shares were worth nothing. AEA was originally the commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. It was spun out of that body in 1994 and floated in 1996.

Tax hikes hit tobacco sales

The cash and carry group Booker said tax hikes meant tobacco sales were down 1.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to 22 June But the 170-strong chain, which is headquartered in Northamptonshire, reported a 1.7 per cent rise in total like-for-like sales.

Severn Trent has 5.2% rise in bills

Severn Trent has reported a 5.2 per cent rise in regulated bills since April but added that customers were using less water. The group, which supplies eight million customers across the Midlands and England, expects to deliver low revenues growth in the full year, but said its earnings would be hit by investment in its network.

Wet weather hits sales of beer

The London Pride brewer and pubs group Fuller, Smith & Turner said the wet summer weather had impacted trade in pubs with gardens, causing a 1.1 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in its managed pub and hotel arm. But the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012 boosted its tenanted pubs division and its Fuller's Beer Company.

Ryanair makes bid for Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus urged shareholders to reject Ryanair's latest €694m (£444.5m) takeover bid for the airline on the grounds that it "fundamentally undervalues" the business. The board also said it had received legal advice that the UK Competition Commission would block Ryanair's offer to take control of the company.

Ericsson reports plunging profits

Ericsson – the world's largest maker of mobile phone networks and equipment – reported a 63 per cent fall in quarterly profits to 1.2bn kronor (£111m). The Swedish firm has been hit as wireless carriers slash spending due to weaker economic growth.

Fresnillo on track to meet targets

Fresnillo, the world's largest primary silver miner, has said it is on track to meet silver and gold output targets for this year, helped by the ramping up of production at its new Saucito mine in Mexico. The group is a member of the FTSE 100.

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