The Business Matrix: Thursday 23 February 2012


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Bankers still being lured overseas

Bankers are still heading overseas, according to the Hays, which saw a 10 per cent fall in hiring in the sector last year, pushing its UK unit to a £3m loss. The recruiter said the squeeze in banking would persist and had spread to markets such as Hong Kong. But a strong performance overseas helped the firm post profits of £63m, up about a fifth.

Aegis in $250m Roundarch deal

Aegis has agreed to buy the US agency Roundarch for about $250m in a deal that meets its twin targets of growth in digital media and North America. The media-buying group said Roundarch's clients include Avis, HBO and the US Air Force. It plans to combine the firm with Isobar, Aegis Media's existing digital creative network in the US.

Profits on the rise for Galliford Try

Galliford Try reported an 89 per cent rise in profits to £32.2m in the six months to 31 December and said it was encouraged by the continued strength of the housing market in the first seven weeks of 2012. The housebuilder said that its focus on the south of England had helped it to shrug off the effects of the weak economy.

Travis Perkins shares up 5%

Shares in Travis Perkins, the builders' merchant, rose by nearly 5 per cent yesterday, after it beat City expectations by winning market share despite the construction-industry gloom. The company, which has more than 600 branches around Britain, saw 2011 pre-tax profits rise 37 per cent to £296.7m.

Logica down but far from out

The IT management consultancy Logica said profits slumped 74 per cent to £55m in 2011, which was more difficult than it had expected after it was hit by restructuring and contract charges. But it said its order book of £4.6bn was strong, and it expected its Benelux business to return to profit this year.

DS Smith close to rights issue

DS Smith, the cardboard-packaging company, has secured 98.6 per cent backing for its £466m rights issue. The shares were priced at 95p in a deal which was part of DS Smith's £1.3bn swoop on the packaging division of the tissue maker SCA of Sweden, the company's biggest acquisition.

Record year for hotel chain

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels said it enjoyed record revenues and profits in 2011, boosted by a strong performance from its sites in London. It reported a 36 per cent increase in profits to £199.8m in 2011, while revenues rose 10 per cent to £820.5m.

Pink diamond found in Australia

The mining group Rio Tinto has unearthed an extremely rare pink diamond at its Argyle mine in Western Australia. Weighing in at 12.76 carats, it is the largest such stone found in the country and is similar to The Williamson Pink, the Tanzanian diamond given to the Queen as a wedding gift.

Centrica boosted by £246m deal

British Gas's owner, Centrica, has bolstered its position in the North Sea by acquiring a number of oil and gas field assets from the French firm Total for £246m. The oil and gas is mostly uncontracted and linked directly to the UK market.

Swiss target their banks over tax

Switzerland has announced plans to force its secretive banks to do more to make sure foreign clients' money is taxed in an attempt to shake off its image as a haven for untaxed funds as it seeks to end a damaging US tax investigation.