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The Business Matrix: Thursday 25 October 2012


Admiralty Arch in £60m hotel deal

Admiralty Arch is to become a luxury hotel after Rafael Serrano, the Spanish developer behind Bulgari's London hotel, paid £60m for a 125-year lease. The arch, between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, was commissioned 100 years ago by Edward VII in memory to his mother, Queen Victoria, and housed government offices.

Punch Taverns to sell 1,500 venues

The British pub industry is still in decline, the boss of the 4,500-strong Punch Taverns chain declared yesterday. Roger Whiteside said drinking out is falling by 3.5 per cent a year, and now plans to sell 1,500 pubs. For the year ended in mid-August Punch's revenues fell 6 per cent to £492m and pre-tax profits fell 16 per cent to £64m.

Taxing times for British American

A sharp hike in tobacco taxes in Brazil saw the volume of cigarettes British American Tobacco sold across the world decline in the three months to September. But good growth from key brands Kent, Dunhill, Pall Mall and Lucky Strike helped to keep revenue growth at 4 per cent.

Tangent in drive to buy Goodprint

The AIM-listed printer Tangent is raising £10m to acquire rival Goodprint. The deal was funded through a placing, with management, which includes former ITV boss Michael Green and his nephew Timothy Green, taking 30 per cent. The deal takes Tangent into 17 European countries.

Hydrodec appoints Lord Moynihan

Clean technology oil refining group Hydrodec has appointed Lord Moynihan to its board as director and non-executive chairman with immediate effect. He is standing down as chairman of the British Olympic Association after seven years.

New devices help turnover at EE

Booming smartphone usage and the advent of new tablets with mobile access are helping to boost turnover at EE, owner of T-Mobile and Orange. Revenues rose 3.1 per cent to £1.5bn, with a net 250,000 new customers joining in the last quarter, and 48 per cent of sales came from data and texting as revenue from "voice" calls keeps falling.

Microsoft rebuked over browsers

The European Union yesterday accused Microsoft of failing to offer a choice of internet browsers with its Windows operating software, which could lead to it being fined billions of dollars. Three years ago, the EU ordered the US giant to start offering a choice of browser, but it is failing to do so and could face fines of 10 per cent of global turnover.

Sports Direct gets Olympics boost

Sports Direct is flogging enough £1.49 tracksuit bottoms and 29p Wayne Rooney masks to send sales up 18 per cent to £403m in the nine weeks to October. The chain, which runs almost 500 shops, said the Olympics had helped gross profits in the period to rise by 21.7 per cent to £167.4m.

US sues BofA for $1bn over loans

The US is suing Bank of America for $1bn, accusing it of selling thousands of toxic home loans to the government-sponsored mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The case dates back to actions by Countrywide, the giant US lender that BofA rescued in 2008.

Dyson sues over 'German spy'

Dyson has accused its German rival Bosch of having a mole in its research-and-development department. The engineering firm has filed proceedings at the High Court claiming a rogue employee was handing secrets to Bosch for up to two years.