The Business Matrix: Thursday 28 April 2011

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The Independent Online

Banks increase mortgage lending

The number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to an eight-month high during March, figures have revealed. A total of 31,660 loans were approved last month, the British Bankers Association said, although this was still down on 2010.

Credit Suisse sees revenues grow

A hiring spree has helped Credit Suisse to post its best first-quarter investment banking revenues on record. Switzerland’s second largest bank saw an 8 per cent rise in investment bank revenues during the first three months of the year, to a record $5.4bn (£3.2bn).

StanChart opposed on ‘excessive’ pay

Standard Chartered shareholders should vote against the bank’s remuneration report, Pirc, the governance group, said. Variable pay is “excessive” for all directors and Mike Rees, the wholesale banking boss, can earn up to 25 times his base salary, Pirc said.

Discount retail is back in fashion

Britain’s high street may be struggling, but the bargain end of the sector is enjoying much better times as cash-strapped Britons hunt out bargains. Primark said it had begun to see shoppers return over the past few weeks, while new data revealed that Aldi and Lidl, the discount supermarkets, are now enjoying their biggest ever share of the groceries market. All retailers are seeing cost pressures, however. MORE

Profits plunge at retailer Game

Profits and sales at the computer game retailer Game plunged last year, as it suffered from the consumer slowdown and a dearth of blockbuster releases. Game posted a 73 per cent fall in profits to £23.1m, on sales down 8.3 per cent to £1.63bn. The retailer said it has “lots to do and a long way to go” to outperform the market.

Carpetright warns again on profits

The floor-covering retailer Carpetright has issued its second profit warning this month and its seventh in a year. Carpetright's underlying sales sank by 6.3 per cent in the UK and Ireland during the 11 weeks to 15 April, it said. The market leader now expects profits to be “slightly below” its 2009 figure of £17m.

Osborne hails return to growth

George Osborne, the Chancellor, described the 0.5 per cent rise in GDP during the first quarter of 2011 as “good news”. He said the return to growth would reinforce the Government’s determination to press ahead with its cuts strategy for tackling the deficit. MORE

Schofield blames food speculators

Robert Schofield, the chief executive of Premier Foods, has warned that market speculators are making his job much harder by adding to the volatility of food prices. The food manufacturer is warning of a further round of price rises ahead due to higher raw-material costs.

Livedoor founder faces jail

Takafumi Horie, the Livedoor founder who built the internet company which became a Japanese blue chip, has lost his appeal against a 30-month prison sentence handed down to him for accounting failures that saw the business collapse five years ago.

Jobs rejects claims of iPhone-tracking

Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, who is currently on medical leave, gave a rare interview last night as the company sought to dismiss suggestions it was using its iPhones to track customers’ movements. Mr Jobs categorically denied the claims.

STV pays ITV £18m to settle legal row

Scottish broadcaster STV has agreed an £18m settlement to end a long-running legal row with ITV. The deal brings to a close a complex string of legal claims between the two broadcasters, which have been locked in a battle since late 2009. STV has said it was in shareholders’ “best interests” to agree the out-of-court settlement.

BAA cuts summer traffic forecasts

BAA yesterday cut its forecasts for Heathrow passenger numbers this summer and said interest costs pushed it deeper into the red in the first three months of this year. BAA, which is resisting a forced sale of some airports, said it expected Heathrow traffic to grow more slowly in the next few years than previously expected.

J&J pays £13bn for Synthes purchase

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to buy Synthes, the Swiss maker of screws and plates to fix broken bones, for SFr19bn (£13bn) in the US healthcare giant’s biggest ever acquisition. “Orthopaedics is a large and growing $37bn global market and represents an important growth driver,” Bill Weldon, J&J’s chief executive, said.

GSK sales catch a winter cold

GlaxoSmithKline’s sales slid 10 per cent in the first quarter as revenue from flu products fell away after last year’s pandemic-linked surge. Britain’s biggest drugmaker said early 2011 was tough but added that growth was improving as treatments adjust to price pressure and competition from generic drugs.

BP still counting cost of Gulf oil spill

BP has revealed a 2 per cent fall in its first-quarter profits, despite a bull run in the oil market that has seen the price rise to a three-year high during the first few months of 2010. The oil giant’s performance was hit by new costs related to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, as well as lower production, a result of asset sales needed to pay the costs of the accident. MORE