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The Business Matrix: Thursday 6 February 2014

Swatch clocks up record sales

Swatch, the world’s biggest watch maker, generated record sales last year, despite currency headwinds as investors looking for safe havens drove up the value of the Swiss franc. Sales of Sfr8.82bn (£5.6bn) in 2013 at the group, which also owns Omega, were up more than 8 per cent. The sales momentum continued into January, Swatch said.

Lloyds poised to invite audit bids

Lloyds Bank is stepping up plans to change auditor. The contract is expected to be put out for tender in the next year, as part of a broader shake-up of accountancy imposed by Brussels lawmakers. New rules insist that companies should switch auditor every 10 years, or every 20 years if a competitive tender is carried out.

Icap revenues drop 6 per cent

Revenues at Icap, the massive broker founded and run by Michael Spencer, dropped 6 per cent in the last quarter as investment banks continued to scale back their trading activities. Mr Spencer said that, despite “challenging conditions”, the company still expects to hit profit expectations for the year ending 28 February.

US giants pay £1bn in settlements

Two major US banks handed over a total of $1.86bn (£1.14bn) to US authorities on Tuesday night. JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $614m to the US government while Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $1.25bn to the regulator which oversaw the taxpayer bailouts of mortgage gurantee firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Second woman joins Imps board

Alison Cooper, chief executive of Imperial Tobacco and one of just four women at the top of FTSE 100 companies, has been joined by another female in her boardroom. Karen Witts, finance director of the B&Q retailer, joins the Imps board with effect from today as a non-executive director.

Deutsche Bank fires three traders

Deutsche Bank has fired three New York-based currency traders, in the latest sign that an inquiry over alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets is gathering steam. The bank told Reuters it was co-operating with regulators investigating the $5.3 trillion (£5.3trn) a day market.

Manx floats on Aim for £160m

Manx Telecom, the company behind telecom services on the Isle of Man, floated on Aim yesterday with a stock market value of £160m. Existing investors HgCapital and CPS Partners have collected a windfall after selling their stakes in the “oversubscribed” offer.

Punch lenders reject debt deal

Bondholders rebelling against Punch Taverns management’s £2.3bn debt restructuring deal reiterated their opposition to the deal yesterday after the company issued a stock market statement urging them to agree, to prevent a “material negative impact on the business”.

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