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The Business Matrix: Thursday 21 July 2011

US travellers boost Eurostar

A surge of American travellers using the Eurostar has helped push the train operator’s revenues up 2 per cent in the first half of this year. The high-speed rail group made revenues of £421m and total passenger numbers were up by 3 per cent to 4.7 million between January and June. International travellers in the period rose by 21 per cent.

Future to cut 100 staff in the UK

Future Publishing, whose titles include Total Film, is set to axe a tenth of its 1,000-strong UK workforce and close a series of titles following disappointing results last week. The publishing group revealed at the time that the US operation was to be made “primarily digital”, adding there would be a reorganisation in the UK. Eight titles face closure.

Fall in consumer confidence

Consumer confidence fell in June as high inflation and unemployment combined with low wage growth to weigh on households’ spending power. The fall in confidence was driven by declining future expectations, which made people less willing to splash out, according to research by the Nationwide Building Society.

Water warning for central England

Severn Trent has reported a smaller-than-expected decline in water consumption during an exceptionally dry March and April. The group, which supplies eight million customers across the Midlands and the heart of England, said the recent rain had been helpful, but was not yet enough to rule out hosepipe bans in certain areas.

American Airlines in jumbo order

American Airlines is to buy at least 460 new aircraft over the next five years in a drive to save money on fuel and provide better facilities for passengers. It will buy 260 aircraft from Airbus and 200 from Boeing, while it also has purchase rights for up to 465 additional aircraft through to 2025.

LSE hopes to go it alone

London Stock Exchange, which recently failed to merge with its counterpart in Toronto, said it continued to make good progress on a trading front, after first quarter revenues improved 14 per cent on a year ago to £190m. Analysts said the results boosted the bourse’s chances of not becoming a bid target itself.

Whatafind seeks fresh funding

A clearance website is seeking fresh funding to revive its fortunes. Whatafind.com – which works with retailers such as Next and The Conran Shop – is in talks with two potential investors, but its website has been down for a week. EdenVentures, which owns 18 per cent of the firm, has decided against more investment.

Aurum set to pick exclusive bidder

Aurum Holdings, the owner of Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland, is poised to grant exclusivity to one of four bidders in its £200m sale process. Dickson Poon, the Hong Kong-based tycoon behind the department store Harvey Nichols, is thought to be one of the interested parties.

Matrix and Le May part company

Matrix Group is parting company with Malcolm Le May, the head of its investment banking business, as the broker reviews the future of the operation. Mr Le May is retiring from Matrix Corporate Capital after two years as CEO. He joined as part of a push to expand into a full-service broker and adviser.

Chiesi sentenced to 2.5 years in jail

Danielle Chiesi, the former hedge fund consultant who admitted passing on illegal tips to Galleon’s founder Raj Rajaratnam, has been sentenced by a Manhattan judge to two-and-a-half years in prison. Rajaratnam was convicted of insider trading in May and will be sentenced in September.