The Business Matrix: Thursday 24 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Judge orders Jobs to answer lawyers

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple who is on medical leave, has been ordered by a judge in California to answer questions from lawyers for a group of consumers accusing the computer giant of creating a music-download monopoly. Apple may appeal against the decision.

Hoy gets 13 years for Ponzi fraud

Graeme Hoy, the fraudster behind a multimillion Ponzi scheme in Australia, has been jailed for 13 years. Hoy told investors their money would go into shares, but he spent it on a lavish lifetyle, buying for himself items including an 85ft yacht and a Rolls-Royce car.

Forrest replaces Murdoch in rich list

Rupert Murdoch has been deposed from the top of Business Review Weekly’s list of Australia’s 200 richest executives by Fortescue Metal’s CEO, Andrew Forrest. The list ranks executives in terms of the market value of shares they own in their listed firms. MORE

Mamut plans $1bn Euroset listing

Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire and former adviser to Boris Yeltsin, is looking to raise more than $1bn (£615m) by listing his mobile-phone retailer Euroset on the London Stock Exchange. The retailer claims a third of the Russian mobile market.

Egyptian stock market reopens

Egypt’s stock market indices tumbled almost 9 per cent yesterday as the Cairo bourse re-opened for the first time since the revolution in January. Less than 30 seconds into the session, the exchange suspended trading under “circuit-breaker” rules intended to cushion falls. Shares resumed their falls after the suspension ended.

60 jobs to go at troubled Vislink

Communications equipment-maker Vislink reported losses of £19m in 2010, up from £6m in 2009 after a “demanding and difficult year”. The group is axing 60 jobs – a quarter of its workforce – as it seeks to cut costs.

Finsbury eyeing a holiday boost

The supermarket cake and bread supplier Finsbury Food is looking for a boost from Royal Wedding and Easter celebrations as it seeks some respite from difficult trading conditions. The firm, which unveiled a 3 per cent rise in half-year profits to £1.9m yesterday, is being buffeted by soaring commodity costs and cautious consumer spending, but said the run of bank holidays next month should bode well for cake sales.

Inflation-proof savings to return

National Savings & Investments will relaunch its popular tax-free index-linked certificates later this year. The savings schemes were withdrawn last July for the first time in 35 years after they were heavily oversubscribed. But a note in the small print in yesterday’s Budget revealed that the Government has given the go-ahead for NS&I to put the certificates back on general sale. Traditionally they have paid RPI plus 1 per cent.

Portmeirion dishes up profits

The ceramics maker Portmeirion posted a 19 per cent rise in profits to £5.4m in 2010 after notching up record sales of £51m, boosted by its takeover of Royal Worcester and Spode in 2009. The Stoke-on-Trent firm is set to benefit from Royal Wedding memorabilia this year and also plans to spend on new ranges. It has already launched 250 lines this year, including a Paddington Bear range.

Smiths looks to emerging markets

Smiths Group said it was hoping to increase its full-year sales with a greater focus on emerging markets, after cost cuts helped it to a higher first-half profit. “To support growth opportunities in emerging markets, we [have] established a direct sales presence in India for both Smiths Detection and Smiths Medical,” said Philip Bowman, chief executive of the technology company.

Reckitt sells Anbesol brand

The pharmaceuticals firm Alliance Pharma has agreed to buy the UK and Irish rights to mouth-ulcer brand Anbesol and teething treatment Ashton & Parsons from Reckitt Benckiser for £2.55m. Reckitt is offloading the brands to appease European concerns over competition following its takeover of SSL International.

BP sells Colorado plant to Anadarko

The oil giant BP has agreed to sell its natural gas plant in Colorado to America’s Anadarko Petroleum for $575m (£353m) as it continues to dispose of $30bn of assets. BP, which hopes to complete the deal by June, said the plant processes natural gas from the Denver Julesburg Basin – an area where it no longer has gas production.

RBS sells Spanish loans portfolio

Royal Bank of Scotland has sold a portfolio of Spanish real estate loans and assets to Perella Weinberg as it continues to dispose of non-core assets. The value of the deal was undisclosed though the loans were valued at €286m (£247m). The bank said non-core assets had now been reduced to £138bn from a high of £258bn.

Hammerson buys malls in £221m deal

The property company Hammerson has bought six shopping centres for £221m from St Martins Property Investments. The assets include the Centrale shopping centre in Croydon, the Monument Mall in Newcastle, and the Three Spires development in Lichfield. The other centres are in Rugby, Coventry and Folkestone.