The Business Matrix: Thursday 22 September 2011

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Zara unveils a rise in profits

Inditex, the Spanish fashion group, posted a surge in profits and sales in the first half and vowed to power ahead with its international expansion. Revenues at the owner of the Zara and Massimo Dutti chains rose 12 per cent to €6.21bn, as it opened 177 stores. It is now preparing to move into South Africa, Taiwan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Peru.

HP shares soar on hopes of change

Gains in Hewlett-Packard’s shares added more than $5bn (£3bn) to its value last night amid reports that its board is considering sacking its chief executive Leo Apotheker in favour of the former eBay boss Meg Whitman. In his 11 months at the helm, Mr Apotheker has decided to sell HP’s PC business and buy the UK firm Autonomy.

Sir John Rose to join Rothschilds

The former chief executive of Rolls-Royce, Sir John Rose, has agreed to join the independent investment bank Rothschild as deputy chairman. The industrialist, who was chief executive of the engine maker Rolls-Royce for 15 years, will start at Rothschild at the beginning of next month, in his first appointment since stepping down this year.

Tesco to float Thai property fund

Tesco plans to raise more than £300m by selling a chunk of property assets in Thailand through a flotation in the country. The grocery giant’s property fund will comprise 15 existing shopping malls, which its Tesco Lotus hypermarkets will continue to lease from the fund. After South Korea and the UK, Thailand is Tesco’s third biggest market.

Halifax attack on Premium Bonds

Halifax is to offer savers the chance to win monthly cash prizes of up to £100,000 in an attack on Premium Bonds. Halifax – part of Lloyds Banking Group – will give away £500,000 each month from December. To qualify customers must have £5,000 in a savings account and must register in advance.

Exxon sells North Sea fields

Apache, the US oil and gas company, announced the acquisition of $1.75bn (£1.1bn) of North Sea assets, including the Beryl field, from domestic rival Exxon-Mobil. Collectively, the oil fields Apache acquired in this deal produce about 19,000 barrels of oil and 58 million cubic feet of gas a day.

Japan’s Rakuten snaps up

Channel Islands-based has been snapped up by the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten in a surprise deal that is worth £25m. This marks the Japanese group’s third online retail acquisition in Europe after the acquisition of PriceMinister in France and the acquisition of Tradoria in Germany.

Wolfson buys Oz’s Dynamic Hearing

The UK chip company Wolfson Microelectronics has agreed a deal worth A$5m (£3.2m) to buy the software company Dynamic Hearing. The Australian group specialises in audio processing software for devices such as mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets and hearing aids.

BT launches games service

BT is finally set to provide customers with a gaming service where all they need is a broadband connection. The group sealed a partnership with cloud computing video game business OnLive in May last year. Users will be able to stream new games over the internet to their televisions or computers.

Huawei launches phones in the UK

Chinese telecoms infrastructure group Huawei is to enter the smartphone market for the first time as it launches the Blaze in the UK next month. The Android pre-pay phone will target the youth market, retailing at under £100. It will be the first of a range of phones to hit the country in the coming months.