The Business Matrix: Thursday 5 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Julia Reynolds is new Blacks boss

Blacks Leisure named Julia Reynolds, the highly regarded chief executive of online retailer Figleaves, to take over as chief executive from Neil Gillis. The outdoor retailer also unveiled much-reduced losses and a new £35m banking facilities for the next 18 months.

Jury restarts in Rajaratnam trial

Jury deliberations in the insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam had to be started all over again after a juror was unable to continue because of a medical problem. An alternate juror, who has watched proceedings in the six-week trial, will join the new panel.

Walker to arbitrate in RBS dispute

Sir David Walker has been asked to mediate in a dispute that has delayed the Financial Services Authority’s report into the failure of Royal Bank of Scotland. The City grandee will arbitrate between the regulator, the Government and lawyers for RBS over what should be included.

Three charged over Torex collapse

The Serious Fraud Office has charged three people in connection with the collapse of the software business Torex Retail, based in Bedfordshire, in 2007. The company’s former chairman, Robin Loosemore, finance director Mark Woodbridge and legal director Nigel Horn are all accused of conspiracy to defraud.

Renren shares surge in debut

Shares in the Chinese social network Renren rose nearly 50 per cent on their stock market debut in New York, in the latest sign that investors are eager to buy into China’s booming internet sector. Renren, whose executive chairman Joseph Chen rang the opening bell, raised $743m (£450m) in its IPO.

Sales warning from BAE Systems

BAE Systems has repeated its warning that sales will fall this year due to the impact of UK spending cuts. But the defence giant told its annual meeting its efficiency measures were likely to help offset the impact of the cuts.

JD Wetherspoon’s fears over costs

JD Wetherspoon warned over rising cost pressures and a squeeze on customer spending power yesterday, even as it reported higher sales. Sales at pubs open for at least a year were up by 2.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to 24 April. The company said it “continues to be faced with rising costs for a wide range of goods and services” combined with a drop in disposable income for its customers.

Chinese demand drives BMW

BMW outshone its rivals with a sharp increase in first-quarter sales, fuelled by demand for the German group’s cars from China and the US. BMW’s sales in China jumped 72 per cent in the first quarter as a growing army of super-rich in the country fuels demand for luxuries such as its Rolls-Royce cars. China now accounts for about 15 per cent of the group’s car sales, up from about 12 per cent a year ago.

Intel has eye on tablet market

Intel has unveiled next-generation technology that crams more transistors on to microchips, in an attempt by the chip-maker to catch up in the key tablet and smartphone market. Intel expects to start production of its first PC and server chips using new technology – code named Ivy Bridge – by the end of 2011 and said that it would also make new processors for mobile devices.

Small business boost for Sage

The blue-chip software group Sage reported a return to growth in all regions in the first half as small and medium-sized businesses tentatively resumed spending on business applications such as accountancy and payroll services. “We have organic growth in all our regions for the first time since 2007,” the company’s chief executive, Guy Berruyer, said. Pre-tax profits rose by 14 per cent.

Sales on the up at confident L&G

Legal & General said it was “very confident” about prospects this year after demand for its savings products helped quarterly sales rise 12 per cent. While its worldwide sales figure of £433m was slightly below the City’s forecast, L&G said market trends in the UK were positive, with signs of an improvement in the house market.

Henderson posts slight dip in assets

Henderson reported a slight dip in assets under management in the first quarter to £76bn but said the integration of Gartmore, which it took over last month, is ahead of schedule. In its first update since the takeover, Henderson said Gartmore staff have moved to its offices and now operate on its own systems and processes.

Rightmove builds on website success

Rightmove said its strong start to the year continued after website usage by property-hunters set new records for its busiest day, week and month. Adoption of additional products by advertisers has also been strong with more than 60 per cent of agents and new-home developers taking at least one extra product.

Price-comparison site’s revenues up

The price-comparison site Moneysupermarket said increased competition among banks for savings deposits had helped its performance over the first four months of 2011. Revenues from money and insurance channels rose 28 and 24 per cent respectively on a weak performance a year earlier, but travel was flat.

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