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The Business Matrix: Thursday 4 April 2013

Thorntons enjoys a happy Easter

The Easter bunny delivered the goods for retailer Thorntons, which today upgraded its profit forecasts after robust recent trading.

As well as Easter the 317-store chocolatier also hailed “similarly satisfactory results” from both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, sending its shares up by more than 5 per cent.

Lending unlikely to improve soon

Banks are unlikely to turn on the credit taps to businesses over the next three months, the Bank of England’s latest snapshot of lending conditions said yesterday. The Bank’s latest credit conditions survey said overall credit availability to corporates “would be little changed” in the second quarter of 2013.

Vodafone shares fall as no bid made

Shares in the mobile giant Vodafone fell 3 per cent after its US partner Verizon ruled out making a bid for the group.

Rumours about a possible bid saw  Vodafone’s shares hit a 12 month high earlier this week. The firm said it is still interested in buying Vodafone’s 45 per cent stake in their mobile joint venture Verizon Wireless in the US.

Production ceases after staff deaths

Enrichment Technologies, jointly owned by the Anglo-Dutch uranium expert Urenco and the French nuclear group Areva, has shut facilities in five countries after two workers died following an accident at its Dutch plant. The company stopped production on 31 March in the UK, Germany, France, the US and the Netherlands.

Post Office HQ is snapped up

Great Portland Estates joined the property industry’s rush into Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout yesterday as it spent £30m on the Post Office’s headquarters. GPE’s Great Ropemaker Partnership – a 50/50 joint venture with the BP Pension Fund –has bought 148 Old Street from the sole ownership of the BP fund.

Trader Group picks outsider for CEO

The company behind Auto Trader, Britain’s biggest second-hand car classifieds website, has snubbed the leading internal candidate for the chief executive’s job, appointing an outsider after a seven-month search. Trevor Mather, chief executive of Thoughtworks, will join Trader Media Group as CEO in June.

Group pays £105m for rental homes

The head of a leading property fund has said a flood of institutional cash is set to pour into the private rented sector, and yesterday snapped up more than 500 homes. Prupimhas paid the housebuilder Berkeley £105.4m for a portfolio of 534 private rental homes on 13 sites.

Capita chief paid £1.9m last year

Capita, the outsourcing giant which carries out swathes of public-sector contracts including working on Britain’s ambulance services and police forces, paid its chief executive, Paul Pindar, £1.9m last year. That included a £760,000 bonus and a 3 per cent pay rise.

Spanish PM calls for spending boost

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, issued a veiled demand to Germany to boost European growth by spending more. In a speech to delegates of his ruling People’s Party, Mr Rajoy called for “growth policies” to match austerity.

China sees signs of improvement

China’s economy showed promising signs last month thanks to an uptick in its construction sector. The country’s purchasing managers’ index – a key measure of economic activity – rose to 55.6 in March from 54.5 a month earlier.

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