The Business Matrix: Thursday 7 June 2012


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BMW passes UK engine landmark

BMW's Hams Hall plant near Birmingham has built its three millionth engine. The German car maker said the engine would be sent to its Mini site in Oxford to be installed in a car destined for the Indian market. Four-cylinder petrol engines have been built at Hams Hall for BMW vehicles for more than a decade.

Moody's warns on German banks

A host of German banks have been downgraded by Moody's credit rating agency, underlining the risk that even the continent's strongest economy faces financial contagion across Europe. Moody's said German banks are exposed to a potential severe deterioration in the eurozone crisis due to their lending across Greece, Spain and Italy.

Waitrose toasts jubilee record

Waitrose enjoyed record trading in the week leading up to the jubilee bank holiday. The grocer's sales rocketed by 19.8 per cent to £123m in the week to 2 June – its best-ever figures excluding Christmas and Easter. While the jubilee was the main driver, Waitrose also ran 25 per cent-off promotions on wines and champagne.

Half-price sale of Lloyds' Oz loans

Lloyds Banking Group yesterday agreed the sale of the bulk of its Australian commercial property loans books to a joint venture between Morgan Stanley and Blackstone. The £809m portfolio of loans, which was largely built up by the former Bank of Scotland part of Lloyds, has been sold for less than half its face value for £388m.

Wilkinson boss to exit retail chain

Stuart Mitchell, the chief executive of Wilkinson, is to step down after nearly six years at the discount retailer. The 367-store chain said that Mr Mitchell, a former director at Sainsbury's, was leaving to "pursue other opportunities". Wilkinson has already begun the search for a new chief executive.

Vodafone in talks with Telstra

The telecoms giant Vodafone has confirmed it is in talks with Australian firm Telstra about buying TelstraClear, its New Zealand operation. Vodafone approached Telstra. TelstraClear has been hit by lower revenues and higher spending after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch.

Drew Marine buys Chemring unit

Chemring is selling its marine flares division for £32m to Drew Marine, which supplies goods and services to ships. Chemring Marine is the world's biggest producer of flares to the private yacht and commercial shipping markets. Chemring will partly use the proceeds to cut debt.

Aggreko signs $250m Africa deal

The temporary-power group Aggreko and its local joint-venture partner Shanduka have signed $250m (£160m) deals to supply 107MW of gas-fired power to Mozambique and South Africa, helping to plug electricity shortages in the region until new power plants come online.

Mining helps Australian growth

Australia's economy rocketed to 4.3 per cent growth for the year to March, its fastest expansion since the global financial crisis, as Chinese demand for iron ore and other commodities masked difficulties outside the mining industry.

Barclays shops in South Africa

Barclays' South African offshoot, Absa Bank, is paying about £800m for the store cards business of one of the country's largest retailers. Absa will take over the existing accounts of Edcon customers and will provide long-term credit to them.