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The Business Matrix: Thursday 5 September 2013

Whisky galore as exports grow

Scotch whisky exports grew in the first six months of 2013 by 11 per cent to almost £2bn in the first six months from £1.78bn in the first half of 2012. The Scotch Whisky Association said some 563 million bottles were exported between January and June this year, up 9 per cent, or almost 50 million bottles, from the same period in 2012.

Banks pay out to small businesses

Banks have paid out £500,000 to small businesses mis-sold interest-rate swaps since the regulator ordered them to review 30,000 cases four months ago. Just 10 offers of redress make up the £500,000, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) yesterday said it expects that figure to "increase rapidly over the coming months".

Huawei rules out mobile phone buy

Huawei will not buy another mobile phone maker, such as BlackBerry, to grow its market share in smartphones, the company said yesterday. The group has partnered ARM for nine years, using the Cambridge-based company's low-power technology in its telecoms gear, cloud computing and handsets businesses.

Kaye cooks up a profit for Prezzo

Jonathan Kaye, the chief executive of Prezzo, has continued to work his magic in the kitchen of the eponymous Italian restaurant group by unveiling a 12 per cent rise in half-year profits to £8.5m. Prezzo, which also owns the Mexican chain Chimichanga, is also on track to open 30 new restaurants by the end of this financial year.

Bumper year for Ashtead

Booming demand for forklift trucks, concrete mixers and portable generators has left equipment hire firm Ashtead predicting a bumper set of full-year results. Chief Geoff Drabble said the group had raised its internal expectations for 2013-14 after making a first quarter pre-tax profit of £97.4m.

Cancer drug boost for AstraZeneca

An experimental ovarian cancer drug that maker AstraZeneca had written off has moved closer to successfully treating patients. Astra put through a £183m impairment charge for Olaparib in December 2011, but better news from recent tests means the drug is now entering final-stage clinical trials.

Barclays sets date for shareholders

The countdown to Barclays' £6bn rights issue continued yesterday with the bank announcing that shareholders who are on its register at the close of business on 13 September will be eligible to buy the new shares. Details of the fundraising will follow later this month.

Ford and GM sales accelerate

Shares of Ford and General Motors jumped yesterday after they reported sales that beat analysts' expectations. The industry was set for its strongest month since before the start of the 2007 recession. "That points to an improving economy," said an analyst.

India moves to support rupee

India's new central bank chief announced measures to support the rupee and liberalise financial markets. Raghuram Rajan outlined plans to subsidise hedging costs and make it easier for importers and exporters to hedge currency risk.

UBS plays down acquisition hopes

UBS chairman Axel Weber said yesterday the Swiss bank was focused on meeting new bank safety rules, playing down speculation that it is about to buy a stake in Germany's Commerzbank. But he added acquisitions could not be ruled out.

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