The Business Matrix: Thursday 31 May 2012


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Copper price close to 2012 low

The benchmark copper price has turned negative for the year, falling more than 2 per cent yesterday and coming within $20 of its 2012 low on fears of a widening European debt crisis and fading hopes for a Chinese stimulus. Copper plunged alongside other raw materials such as crude oil, which also slid to a fresh 2012 trough.

City lawyer jailed over £1.2m theft

A senior City lawyer has been jailed for three years after stealing £1.2m from his former firm, Hogan Lovells, through expenses. The court heard Christopher Grierson had suffered depression since 2005, which led to "bizarre" decisions, including lavishing £630,000 on a mistress in New York. The judge said his behaviour was in part due to his illness.

New boss for Cape after profits drop

The energy engineering services group Cape has parachuted in a new chief executive days after a shock profits warning wiped nearly 40 per cent off its value. Cape named Joe Oatley, the former chief executive of the oil and gas engineer Hamworthy, to run the business from the end of June, replacing its acting boss, Brendan Connolly.

Ailing Olympus to shed 2,500 jobs

Japan's scandal-hit cameras and endoscope firm Olympus gave more evidence it is struggling yesterday as it signalled plans to axe 2,500 staff and sell a stake to Sony or Panasonic. Olympus, whose former chief executive Michael Woodford blew the whistle on a £1bn-plus fraud last year, admitted it needed to bolster its finances.

Iglu's Europe push gets equity boost, the online ski and cruise agent, is planning to expand into Europe after an investment by GCP, a private equity house. GCP has acquired a significant minority stake in the holiday company after buying out a previous investor, Matrix Private Equity Partners for an £19m.

L&S plotting new £200m venture

London & Stamford is setting up a £200m joint venture to snap up residential property in the capital and benefit from buoyant rents. L&S, which is run by the property veterans Ray Mould and Patrick Vaughan, has a £900m war chest and is poised to make another £300m in acquisitions.

Aussies still game at Sportingbet

Sportingbet has seen a 10 per cent rise in wagers this quarter to £556m, largely driven by its Australian arm. But punters across Europe and emerging markets are counting the pennies and resisting having a flutter, with amounts wagered down 38 per cent to £187m.

New names for Bank's Court

Former Investec chief executive Bradley Fried, ex-JPMorgan derivatives boss Tim Frost and Unison general secretary Dave Prentis have been appointed as non-executive directors of the Bank of England. They will replace Brendan Barber, Mark Tucker and Harrison Young.

Party Poker firm bets on web games

The Party Poker firm Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment is to invest up to $50m (£31.9m) over the next two years to broaden its reach into social gaming – where games are played on online social networks such as Facebook.

Amec expands in Australia

The engineering and project manager Amec has bought Unidel for A$27m (£17m). The Knutsford, Cheshire-based company could pay a further £8.8m over three years if certain profit targets are met at the Australia-based business.