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The Business Matrix: Thursday 25 August 2011

Pinewood’s film revenues up 68%

Pinewood Shepperton, home to James Bond and Harry Potter films, and now majority-owned by Peel Holdings, has reported a 68 per cent rise in film revenues to £18.2m in its first half, boosted by productions such as the Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. But TV revenues fell 8 per cent as more space was given to film, leaving total profits flat at £1.5m.

Admiral sees premiums easing

A rising tide of no-win, no-fee personal injury claims overshadowed a record half-year at the car insurer Admiral. First-half turnover at the group, which owns Diamond, elephant.co.uk and Confused.com, rose 53 per cent to £1.1bn. The company signalled some relief for motorists, saying the recent surge in premiums may ease.

Apple’s legal win hurts Samsung

A Dutch court has awarded Apple an injunction to stop its rival Samsung from marketing three smartphone models, including its Galaxy S, after alleging a breach of patents. The injunction, which comes into force on 13 October, could affect the UK as Samsung imports goods to Europe through the Netherlands.

Cider sales fall at Heineken

Heineken sold less beer and cider in the UK in the first half as low consumer confidence hit sales. The brewer, which posted a 4 per cent fall in earnings to €605m (£529m), said Strongbow volumes had dropped in the face of increased competition – Stella Artois launched its Cidre brand in April – and the scrapping of its high-alcohol Strongbow Black.

Tesco veteran Higginson quits

Andrew Higginson, Tesco’s chief executive of retailing services, will step down from the retail giant next September after 15 years at the group. Mr Higginson led Tesco’s move into mainstream banking through its acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland’s 50 per cent stake in Tesco Personal Finance in 2008.

Serco rides to a £122m profit

Serco, the outsourcing giant behind London’s “Boris” bike scheme, credited rapid overseas growth for a 10 per cent rise in its first-half profits to £122m. But the group, which also runs prisons and nuclear facilities, said its divisions in the UK and US were facing “challenging conditions” in the face of government cuts.

Consumers grow less confident

Consumer confidence continued to fall last month, amid increased uncertainty around the UK’s economic outlook, and is set to dip further in August, according to Nationwide’s latest survey. The group’s Consumer Confidence Index came in at 49, well below its average reading of 79 and down from 51 in June.

Moody’s cuts Japan’s rating

Moody’s has cut its rating on Japan’s debt one notch to Aa3, blaming a build-up of debt and revolving-door politics that has hampered planning. It is now three levels below the top AAA rate, which Tokyo lost in 1998, and the same as China, which last year passed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy.

BHP Billiton posts healthy profits

BHP Billiton reported an 86 per cent rise in annual profits amid soaring prices for iron ore and copper. The Melbourne-based mining giant – which is listed in London – said its $24bn (£15bn) profits were the result of soaring prices that reflected ravenous demand from emerging markets such as China and tight supply.

Glencore looks to buy out Minara

Glencore has offered A$268m (£171m) to buy the 26.6 per cent stake it does not already own in Australia’s second-largest nickel producer, Minara Resources. The bid comes as the price of the metal, which is used to manufacture stainless steel, has fallen a third from the highs it hit in February.

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