The Business Matrix: Thursday 4 December 2014


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International Greetings geed up

Card, crackers and wrapping paper-maker International Greetings said strong demand for Christmas items would help it break records on sales volumes this year. Wrapping paper and gift packages daubed with designs from Disney’s Frozen are particularly popular, IG said, as half-yearly profits rose 7.1 per cent to £4m.

TCI profits more than double

Profits at Sir Chris Hohn’s hedge fund TCI more than doubled last year as it raked in higher performance fees. TCI, the largest private shareholder in Royal Mail, posted a £68.7m profit in the year to 28 February. Turnover rose 89 per cent to £97m. Last week, the High Court ruled Sir Chris must pay his wife a £337m divorce settlement.

Brookfield’s grip on City tightens

Canada’s Brookfield has increased its grip on the City property market, spending £211m on the Moorgate Exchange. Brookfield has spent more than £500m on Hammerson’s City office unit in 2012. The wedge-shaped office was built on the former Moorgate Telephone Exchange and Post Office.

Peacocks owner to open 100 stores

Edinburgh Woollen Mills is looking to open at least 100 new stores over the next two years. The group, owned by reclusive Cumbria-based entrepreneur Philip Day, reported a 25 per cent rise in annual profits to £71.3m yesterday, although sales fell 2.7 per cent to £552m. Sales at its chain of Peacocks stores rose 4 per cent.

CME raises offer for GFI to $675m

Futures market operator CME has raised its offer for broker GFI, matching a rival hostile bid from BGC Partners. CME, which is now willing to pay $675m (£431m) for the broker founded by yacht-loving Essex boy Mickey Gooch, plans to spin off GFI’s wholesale brokerage business to GFI management.

Brewin Dolphin profits dive 70%

IT problems took a large chunk out of Brewin Dolphin’s profits last year as they slumped 70 per cent to £8.6m. The wealth manager was forced to scrap the roll-out of a new software system but still managed to increase its dividend by 24 per cent to 6.25p in the year ending 28 September.

Space Ape raises $7m for expansion

Space Ape, the mobile gaming start-up behind Samurai Siege, has raised $7m (£5m) to expand its studio and launch its second game, Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin. The London-based group raised the sum from Accel Partners, Initial Capital and Connect Ventures.

Max Petroleum payments at risk

The Kazakhstan-focused explorer Max Petroleum has warned that the slide in the price of crude oil means it will not be able to keep paying interest on a £52.9m loan from Russian bank Sberbank unless a crucial investment from AGR Energy is completed.

Sage set to surge after revenue lift

Sage, whose accounting software is used by 6 million small businesses, said growth would accelerate in 2015 after its new chief executive, Stephen Kelly, unveiled a 5 per cent rise in underlying revenues for the past year to £1.3bn.

Services credited for 3% rise in GDP

The services sector – which makes up three-quarters of the economy – has put the UK on course for 3 per cent growth this year, according to the latest survey from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.