The Business Matrix: Thursday 24 October 2013


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Wealth funds set to go nuclear

The sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Kuwait could take a stake of up to 15 per cent in EDF's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, according to reports in France. A deal between the Government and EDF on Monday in effect gave the go-ahead to building the £16bn plant but left open room for additional investors.

Asos sticks it to its critics

Nick Robertson, the chief executive of online retailer Asos, has dismissed suggestions that the high-flying business is growing too quickly as he revealed another double-digit boost in sales. He said: "I stick two fingers up to those people. We've been in the UK for 13 years now and even there we've managed to increase sales 34 per cent."

Sports Direct profits soar

Sports Direct saw gross profits soar 19.4 per cent to £199.8m in the nine weeks to end of September, with sales up 15.1 per cent to £463.7m. The company said it was pleased to beat tough comparisons against last year's Olympics. However, bosses made no mention of their use of zero-hours contracts, which politicians have called "abusive".

Ex-EMI boss to head Centaur

Centaur Media has named music supremo Andria Vidler as its new boss, hours after ex-chief executive Geoff Wilmot abandoned a bid for the company. Ms Vidler joins from EMI where she ran the label and oversaw the rise of artists including Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé. She used to run Capital and Magic FM.

City workers eye 2013 bonuses

Despite tighter rules six out of 10 City workers are expecting to receive a bonus this year. Only 26 per cent have given up hope of any bonus for the year, according to eFinancialCareers. Fund manager's expectations are higher than bankers' but UK financiers' hopes are behind Hong Kong and Germany.

Euro banks in stress test

Eurozone banks face a year of assesment of their balance sheets from next month, finishing with a heightened stress test, the European Central bank announced. Tests on 130 banks will first look at their transparency in unearthing potential bad loans or risky assets. This will be followed by the stress test.

eBay buys UK courier firm Shutl

More than two dozen investors in Shutl, an online courier company that specialises in same-day delivery, are celebrating after agreeing a deal to sell to US retailer and auction site eBay. No price was put on the planned deal but shareholders could receive over £10m.

APR buys mobile turbine firm

Temporary power group APR Energy has bought General Electric's mobile turbine business for $314m (£194m) in cash and stock. GE will receive $64m in cash, and become an investor in APR, a smaller rival to FTSE 100 giant Aggreko, with 15.5 million shares worth about $250m.

Premier Oil blames pipes

Premier Oil has cut its output guidance for the year by up to 10 per cent, its second downgrade in four months, blaming pipeline issues at projects off the coast of the UK and Vietnam. Shares in the company tumbled to their lowest level in 10 months.

Pace's £191m move for Aurora

TV set-top box maker Pace will buy US-based network gear maker Aurora Networks Inc for $310m (£191m) in cash to diversify its products to cable customers. Pace said the acquisition would significantly add to 2014 earnings and save $8m.