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The Business Matrix: Thursday 22 March 2012

Share sale's £170m for Lloyds

Lloyds Banking Group has raised £170m by selling new shares so that it can restart making interest payments on some of the bonds that it issued at the height of the financial crisis. The new shares were placed at just under 35.5p – a modest discount to the current price of 35.96p.

Speedy freight trains on track

The first-ever high-speed freight train between France and the UK arrived in St Pancras yesterday, in a trial run that could herald the future of European goods delivery. The Euro Carex consortium sent a train from Lyon at 4.25pm on Tuesday carrying the equivalent of 120 tons of parcels. It drew into St Pancras at 1.24am yesterday.

M&B boosted by new face on board

The seemingly relentless turmoil on the board of Mitchells and Butlers continued when the pubs chain landed another new director. The business still doesn't have a chief executive, but has been boosted by the arrival of Edward Irwin, a representative of the racing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, who own a 24 per cent stake.

ARM role for Sir John Buchanan

Former BP finance director Sir John Buchanan is taking on his fourth senior role at a FTSE 100 company, raising corporate governance issues. He is to become chairman of chip designer ARM in May. He is already chairman of Smith & Nephew, deputy chairman of Vodafone and senior independent director of BHP Billiton. He replaces Doug Dunn.

Stake sales hint by Ophir Energy

Ophir Energy, the FTSE 250 gas and oil explorer, has admitted that it will look to bring in joint venture partners for its east Africa fields "in the next 12 months." Speaking at Ophir's annual results, chief executive Nick Cooper said: "The most likely partners are big oil companies and end-user utilities."

Glaxo embarks on new drugs fund

Britain's biggest pharma firm, GlaxoSmithKline, has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson and private equity house Index Ventures to launch a ground-breaking €150m fund to discover new drugs. Index, whose earlier investments include Skype, is contributing €75m. Glaxo and J&J will put up the rest.

Government gets post pension

The Government will take over Royal Mail's £4.6bn pension fund next month, after European legislators approved the plans. The decision removes one of the main obstacles to privatising Royal Mail. It will provide a windfall gain to the Government worth about £28bn.

Borrowing soars in Portugal

Portugal's borrowing bill nearly tripled in the first two months of 2012, stoking concerns that the Eurozone struggler may follow Greece in needing a second bailout. Rising spending and a slump in tax collection leaves the nation with its work cut out to hit fiscal targets.

Packaging giant 'for sale'

Klöckner Pentaplast, the German plastic packaging maker owned by buyout giant Blackstone, is thought to have gone up for sale. Information on the company was due to be sent out to a mixture of trade and private equity groups.

Begg joins uni venture

Sir David Begg, former economic adviser to the Bank of England, has become a non-executive director of Imperial Innovations, the listed venture which backs inventions made by the UK universities.

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