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The Business Matrix: Thursday 4 October 2012

EasyJet enjoys surge in profits

Budget airline easyJet flagged up record profits this year as holidaymakers who stayed at home for the Olympics dashed abroad to grab some late-summer sun. EasyJet, which carries 58 million passengers a year, said pre-tax profits for the year to September could hit as much as £320m, £20m above its estimates in late July.

Boardroom coup at Victoria Carpets

Two directors were ousted from the board of Victoria Carpets, the 117-year-old maker of the red carpet at last year's royal wedding, yesterday, after rebel shareholders won the day. More than two-thirds of investors succeeded in removing chairman Katherine Innes Ker and non-executive director David Garman from the board.

EU's deadline to clear merger

EU competition regulators will decide by 8 November whether to clear the £56bn mining mega-merger Glencore and Xstrata agreed this week, the European Commission said. Glencore formally notified the EU watchdog of its intention last night. Regulators will examine its combined market power.

PR outfit Freud defies gloom

Matthew Freud's public-relations agency saw profits leap by more than a third last year as it increased revenue and improved margins despite a tough economy. Freud Communications posted a pre-tax profit of £7.9m, up from £5.9m a year earlier. Revenues increased 8 per cent to £37.6m.

Petrol sales plummet

Motorists bought nearly 500 million fewer litres of petrol between April and June than a year earlier, despite prices falling by more than 10p a litre. The AA said the sales were more than two billion litres below 2008 levels and said fuel sellers were "trying to squeeze more money out of shrinking demand".

Spurs billionaire wins Timeweave

Joe Lewis, the billionaire owner of Tottenham Hotspur, won the battle to buy Timeweave, the AIM-listed firm that owns 50 per cent of the betting television programme business Turf TV. Mr Lewis's Mayfair Capital already had a 29.99 per cent stake in Timeweave. His offer was worth £50m.

Capita misses government deal

Outsourcing giant Capita yesterday said it had lost out on a new government contract to run criminal-record checks after the Home Office pursued talks with a rival supplier. Insiders said it was likely to go to Tata Consultancy Services, part of Indian conglomerate Tata Group.

Murdoch comes under fresh fire

Rupert Murdoch is facing pressure from investors to challenge his role as chairman and CEO of News Corporation. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum and a US firm have tabled a resolution demanding an independent chairman in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Lamprell chief set to quit after alert

Nigel McCue is set to resign as chief executive of Lamprell after the oil-rig maker issued its fourth profits warning since the spring. As with its earlier alerts, the latest bad news stems from Lamprell's problems with a contract for two wind-farm vessels.

Davies to take over at Halfords

Halfords has named former Pets At Home boss Matt Davies as its new chief executive. Mr Davies replaces David Wild, who quit in July on news of a profit warning. Mr Davies, 41, takes on the post tomorrow, when Halfords is also due to give a trading update. Dennis Millard, chairman of Halfords who has been acting as interim chief executive officer, said Mr Davies had "impeccable service credentials and the energy and ability to drive Halfrods forward".province reported for work but refused to go underground.

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