The Business Matrix: Thursday 21 June 2012


Fitness First avoids gym sale

UK gym chain Fitness First has avoided administration after creditors backed plans to restructure its lease agreements, the company said, prompting the sale of around half of its UK gyms and a £600m debt write off. Creditors yesterday approved a company voluntary arrangement allowing rent renegotiation on 79 gyms.

Calamity Kesa loses £250m

Kesa Electricals, the former owner of Comet, had a year to forget in 2011 after restructuring costs associated with the disposal of the struggling UK chain saw it post a calamitous loss of more than £250m. Even Kesa's Darty chain in France, widely regarded as a success, also suffered with profits down by more than a quarter.

Sage buys into Brazilian rival

Sage, the accountancy software group, made its first foray into the world's fast-growing Bric nations yesterday with a £125m deal to buy Brazilian rival Folhamatic. It will receive 75 per cent of the Group, which makes accounting, tax and payroll software. Folhamatic's founder Mauricio Frizzarin will continue to run the business.

Rio Tinto plans £2.4bn expansion

Mining giant Rio Tinto plans to spend $3.7bn (£2.4bn) on expanding its iron ore operations in Pilbara, Western Australia. The move comes despite slowing demand for the metal from its biggest customer, China, where manufacturing levels are down. Rio said its investment will increase its iron ore production by 25 per cent by 2016.

Iglo price put at £2.2bn by Permira

Permira, owner of frozen foods giant Iglo, is looking for €2.8bn (£2.2bn) from bidders for the business. The private-equity groups BC Partners and Blackstone have teamed up to put in a joint bid for the maker of Birds Eye brands. Blackstone owns Pinnacle, which owns the US rights to the Birds Eye brand.

Aer Lingus rejects Ryanair bid

Aer Lingus called on its shareholders to reject a new bid from rival Irish airline Ryanair. The flag carrier argued the offer unvalued it and noted Ryanair's first offer was rebuffed by Brussels, while its second was withdrawn, creating "uncertainty" any offer from Ryanair would be "capable of completion".

Costain's £40m Crossrail deal

Costain has won a £40m Crossrail contract alongside Skanska – the duo's fifth deal to work on the new London train line. The joint venture will build and fit out shafts at Eleanor Street and Mile End Park in Tower Hamlets. The work is expected to take six years to complete.

Dutch order Apple to pay Samsung

A Dutch court has ordered Apple to pay damages to Samsung over a patent violation in the Netherlands, the latest twist in the global battle between the two rival phone and PC makers. Apple and Samsung are suing each other over patents in about a dozen countries.

British Gas invests in Power Plus

British Gas has boosted its smart meter capability with a £3.6m investment in German firm Power Plus. The Centrica-owned energy supplier will take a minority shareholding in Power Plus. It has rolled out 500,000 smart meters to date.

Park launches e-gift digital card

The Christmas hamper savings group Park has teamed up with US group Giftango to launch an e-gift digital gift card, which it hopes to roll out to its 6,000 clients. Park wants to produce digital versions of its Love2reward and Love2shop products.