The Business Matrix: Thursday 19 June 2014


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Santander to send clients to rivals

Santander UK will become the first British bank to refer rejected applicants for loans to a peer-to-peer lender, a move its rivals could soon be forced to follow. The government is considering making it compulsory for banks to direct failed loan applicants to alternative lenders to boost the supply of credit to small firms.

NatWest to shed 361 managers

NatWest is axing 361 branch managers under a restructuring programme. However, the high-street lender, owned by the taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland, plans to create 116 senior jobs by linking more of its branches together under the same manager, and will also create 45 new customer services positions.

H&M profits soar 26% to £647m

The Swedish fashion giant H&M has fought off stiff UK competition from Primark and New Look to report a surge in profits, as shoppers begin their summer spending spree.Investments in new shops and expansion online helped the world’s second largest fashion retailer, post a 26 per cent rise in operating profits to £647.2m.

Japan sees 23rd monthly deficit

Japan racked up its 23rd successive month of trade deficits in May as recovery in the US and Europe failed to boost the world’s third-biggest economy. The shutdown of its nuclear plants in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami triggered much higher imports of crude oil and gas to offset the lost capacity, figures showed.

AstraZeneca boss offloads shares

The head of drug development and chief medical officer at AstraZeneca has sold just over $1m of shares just weeks after it saw off a £69bn takeover bid from US rival Pfizer. Dr Briggs Morrison, who joined AstraZeneca from Pfizer in 2012, criticised his former employer during the bid.

London gold fix under threat

The London Gold price, which has ben set twice daily for the past 95 years, could be coming to an end. The World Gold Council plans to reform the process in the wake of growing allegations of price-rigging. A forum to be held in London on 7 July will involve miners, bankers, refiners and exchanges.

Managers unite to improve lobbying

Britain’s fund management industry, worth £5trillion, is consolidating its lobbying powers. The Investment Management Association is to merge with the Association of British Insurers’ investment arm on 30 June to form the Investment Association.

Shell plans to float pipeline business

Royal Dutch Shell is planning a stock-market flotation of its pipeline unit Shell Midstream Partners later this year. The listing of the business in the  US is expected to raise $750m, with the cash used to buy stakes in pipeline businesses from another of Shell’s units.

Balfour wins US science contract

Balfour Beatty has won a £93m contract to help design and build a new headquarters for the US National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. The agency promotes science and funds research. Balfour said the US economy was recovering.

Exxon and BP expats leave Iraq

Exxon and BP have been evacuating their expat workers from Iraq after fighting reached the country’s largest oil refinery. An Iraqi oil official reiterated that oil exports from the south, where there is no fighting, had not been affected.