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The Business Matrix: Thursday 19 September 2013

Santander vows to help business

Santander UK boss Ana Botin vowed to support the "champion companies" which she claimed will boost growth across the UK economy. Ms Botin said local relationship managers at the bank were committed to helping small and medium-sized enterprises grow, but warned policymakers they must not over-regulate banks.

Virgin Galactic not far from take-off

Sir Richard Branson has claimed his latest venture Virgin Galactic is just "months away" from launching its ambitious space programme. The 63-year-old entrepreneur, whose interests have spanned music, media and aviation, hopes the business will take ordinary people into space for the princely sum of £130,000.

RBS's Sir Philip set to move to GSK

Britain's biggest drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, is set to appoint Royal Bank of Scotland's Sir Philip Hampton as its new chairman. GSK's current chairman, former Vodafone boss Sir Christopher Gent, is expected to stand down next year after nine years in the role with Sir Philip tipped to replace him.

Medical gloom for Smiths Group

Smiths Group has seen revenue and profit drop in its medical unit which it failed to sell this summer. The division, alongside Smiths' slumping explosives detection business, will now be subjected to a groupwide restructuring which chief executive Philip Bowman believes could lead to £50m in cost savings over the next four years.

Dividend delight for Redrow boss

Redrow boss Steve Morgan today added another £1.5m to his £500m fortune as the housebuilder reinstated the final dividend in the wake of soaring annual profits. Morgan, the 40 per cent shareholder and founder, steered the company to a 63 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £70m in the year to June 30.

Weapons plea by Starbucks founder

Starbucks' founder and chief executive Howard Schultz yesterday entered the fray of the US gun debate – by "requesting" customers don't bring weapons into the coffee chain's branches. The open letter in newspapers came hours after 12 people were shot dead by a gunman in Washington.

Zara maintains its No 1 position

Zara owner Inditex managed to maintain its position as the world's biggest fashion retailer thanks to opening close to 100 stores in six months and launching global websites. Sales rose 6 per cent to €7.7bn (£6.46bn) in the first half of the year. Underlying profits remained flat at €1.6bn.

Reckitt announces tranche pricing

Reckitt Benckiser Group, the consumer goods giant, has announced the pricing of its $1bn (£623m) dual-tranche senior notes offering. This consists of $500m senior notes due 2018 and $500m senior notes due 2023. The money will be used for a variety of investment purposes.

Cannabis seizure medicine on trial

A cannabis-based medicine that could help the world's 50 million epileptics control their seizures is being tested in human clinical trials. British company GW Pharmaceuticals has spent five years carrying out research into the treatment.

Trouble ahead for Cyprus

Cyprus has made progress with overhauling its banking sector and pushing through structural reforms to the economy but significant risks remain if the it is to return to growth, the so-called Troika of bailout lenders, the EC, ECB and IMF said.

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