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The Business Matrix: Thursday 22 December 2011



Authorities raid Olympus offices

Japan's fraud squad swooped on Olympus yesterday as its £1bn corruption crisis deepened. Investigators filed into the camera maker's Tokyo offices as prosecutors, police and regulators joined forces to investigate one of Japan's biggest corporate scandals. The home of its former president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa was also raided.

Gas companies fined over leaks

The energy regulator Ofgem has fined National Grid Gas and Northern Gas Networks £4.3m and £900,000 respectively, for failing to deal with their gas leaks on time last winter. Gas distributers have to respond to 97 per cent of their uncontrolled gas leakages within an hour. But National Grid's results came in at 92.1 per cent to 96.1 per cent.

MPC unanimous over pause in QE

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously this month not to extend its quantitative easing programme further, minutes of the meeting showed yesterday. The minutes did, however, indicate a divergence of views among MPC members about the outlook for inflation in the second half of 2012.

Gold lining for pawnbrokers

The pawnbroker H&T expects its full-year results to be better than expected thanks to the success of its 53 Gold Bar outlets purchaing gold. The group's core pawnbroking business performed strongly with the pledge book currently standing at over £45m. It opened a further 25 stores in 2011, taking the total estate to 160 stores.

BT wires its to support Triumph

Telecoms giant BT has won a contract with lingerie brand Triumph to connect its network of production sites and shops with the company's headquarters in Bad Zurzach, Switzerland. BT said Triumph was represented in more than 120 countries with manufacturing facilities in 10 countries.

Public borrowing down to £18.1bn

Public borrowing came in at £18.1bn in November, down from £20.4bn in November 2010, official figures showed yesterday, leaving the Government on course to bring down the deficit for 2010-11 to £127bn. But some analysts warned that the deficit reduction timetable could yet be thrown off course.

£400,000 fine for Seymour Pierce

Seymour Pierce, the largest adviser to companies on the junior Aim stock exchange, has been handed a record £400,000 fine and publicly censured by the market's disciplinary committee. Aim said Seymour Pierce twice failed to meet standards required by a nominated adviser.

Hardy revives Beazley's interest

Hardy Underwriting's shares leapt by 9 per cent yesterday after its larger rival Beazley began "exploratory discussions" about a takeover. The insurer put itself up for sale this month after taking a series of hits from big natural disasters. Beazley first held talks a year ago.

Foyles blames fall on rail works

Foyles has blamed the "disruption" from CrossRail to trading at its flagship Charing Cross Road bookstore for a 39 per cent fall in annual profits to £204,681. The chain, which has six shops, estimated it had lost £1.5m from the rail infrastructure project.

Travelzest strips off UK brands

The nudist holiday company Travelzest has put most of its British travel brands up for sale after takeover talks failed. The firm said it would sell businesses including Peng, which specialises in naturist holidays, and focus on its Canada business.