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The Business Matrix: Thursday 29 November 2012

More Comet stores to close

The administrator to Comet has confirmed that it plans to close a further 125 stores over the coming weeks, which means that most of the failed electricals chain's 6,600 staff will have lost their jobs by Christmas. Deloitte said the latest batch of closures, accounting for about 2,500 staff, would leave just 70 of Comet's original 236 shops trading.

Esure on the flotation trail

Motor insurer esure is looking at a stock-market flotation early next year, one of its main shareholders confirmed yesterday. "After the successful flotation of Direct Line recently we are certainly considering an initial public offering," said Electra Private Equity, which backed the original £270m buyout of esure from Lloyds Banking Group.

Games gold for Telford Homes

East London builder Telford Homes today said it had cashed on the success of the Olympic Games by selling about £60m- worth of new flats in Stratford in a matter of weeks. Telford said three-quarters of the 187 flats sold — worth up to £400,000 each — were snapped up by overseas buy-to-let investors, after a tour of the Far East.

CBI in pension tax relief warning

Chancellor George Osborne was yesterday urged not to slash tax relief on pension contributions. Mr Osborne is thought to be considering such a move in next week's Autumn Statement. The employers' body, the Confederation of British Industry, warned that cutting the £50,000 limit for pensions "would hit swathes of middle-income earners".

Nephew buys new US £488m relation

Smith & Nephew has spent $782m (£488m) buying its way into the fast-growing wound-care market, acquiring a business whose products include an ointment that removes dead tissue from injuries. The FTSE 100 replacement hip and knee maker bought US firm Healthpoint, maker of Santyl ointment.

China upbeat on growth prospects

China has damped fears over a slowdown as ministers said the world's second-biggest economy is certain to hit official growth targets this year. Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the country would meet its 7.5 per cet annual growth target "for certain" and could even exceed it, after third-quarter data slowed.

United is up on water price rise

United Utilities said price rises had enabled it to report higher revenues on Wednesday, keeping Britain's largest listed water utility on track to meet its targets. Half-year revenue rose 3.8 per cent to £823m, thanks to a 5.8 per cent price increase permitted by regulator Ofwat.

Lord Rothschild blasts Banks' QE

City grandee Lord Rothschild has blamed quantitative easing by central banks around the world for a fall in the value of his investment vehicle RIT Capital Partners. Net asset value per share of the fund fell 4.9 per cent in the last six months while world markets gained 0.6 per cent.

Daisy losses are not so fresh

Telecoms company Daisy Group saw losses climb to £13.8m in the first half of the year on lower sales in its mobile business. Daisy, which also offers networking and voice over internet protocol services, said headline revenue climbed 1 per cent.

Troubled Betfair names a new FD

Alexander Gersh has got his work cut out after beleaguered internet betting firm Betfair named him finance director. Betfair's shares have more than halved since its listing just over two years ago. Gersh is formerly of technology firm NDS.

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