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The Business Matrix: Thursday 28 July 2011

Dunkin’ Brands share value soars

Shares in Dunkin’ Brands jumped more than 50 per cent on their debut in New York yesterday, valuing the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin’ Robbins ice-cream parlors at more than $3.5bn (£2bn) last night. The group raised $423m in its initial public offering, priced at a higher-than-expected $19 per share.

Lancashire to return to London

The Lloyd’s of London insurer Lancashire is moving its tax base from Bermuda back to Britain after the Government promised to reform the taxation of overseas profits. The firm, which insures aircraft, ships and oil rigs, unveiled the move as it reported a forecast-beating rise in profits thanks to its limited exposure to recent natural disasters.

Forever 21 opens London store

Queues stretched along Oxford Street yesterday as Forever 21, the US fashion chain, opened its first store in London. The flagship store, in the three-storey former HMV building, will be followed by another branch in the autumn at Stratford Westfield as the chain rolls out 20 European stores. An outlet in Birmingham opened last November.

Diageo settles corruption case

Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits group, has agreed to pay more than $16m (£10m) to settle US charges that it violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices act. The Johnnie Walker maker did not admit any wrongdoing when settling the charges that subsidiaries had made improper payments to obtain benefits in India, Thailand, and South Korea.

Provident posts healthy profits

The doorstep lender Provident Financial saw profits from its credit card arm, Vanquis Bank, nearly double to £17.6m in the first half of 2011 as its bad debt rate fell. Overall, profits at the Provident, which lends to people who cannot get credit from highstreet banks, rose 15 per cent to £62m with lending up 12 per cent.

Carphone loses out on long deals

The Carphone Warehouse has revealed a drop in quarterly sales after weak demand for pre-pay phones and a shift towards 24-month contracts hit its UK stores. Total connections fell 6 per cent and sales 3 per cent, despite strong demand on the Continent for smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone.

Cloud services lift Autonomy growth

Autonomy posted a 16 per cent jump in quarterly sales yesterday and said growth was driven by cloud computing, in which it manages data storage and processing for customers remotely. This also gives the software firm a clearer outlook because it has long-term contracts with recurring revenues.

Sage weathers last quarter well

Sage, the software specialist for small and medium-sized businesses, made progress in the last three months despite the uncertain economic backdrop. The Newcastle-based group said it is managing its cost base carefully and expects to deliver good growth over the full year to September.

Cox & King’s wins Holidaybreak

The upmarket tour operator Cox & Kings is to add school trips and holiday parks to its portfolio after securing a £312m takeover deal. The acquisition of Holidaybreak includes the educational holidays and tour businesses PGL and NST, as well as Eurocamp, Keycamp, and the Explore adventure holidays brand.

Ipsos buys Aegis in £525m deal

The French market-research company Ipsos is buying Aegis’s market-research division Synovate for £525m in a move it said would propel it to the No 3 spot worldwide. The sale could also focus attention on the rest of the ad agency Aegis, which has long been seen as a target for the French group Havas.

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