The Business Matrix: Tuesday 09 July 2013


Chinese firm buys Lloyd’s building

Around 4,000 City workers now have a Chinese landlord after the Lloyd’s of London building was snapped up by the Chinese insurer Ping An for £260m. The “inside-out” building – designed by Richard Rogers and let to Lloyd’s until 2031 – is the first major acquisition by a Chinese insurer in the UK, but could trigger a flood of purchases.

Kingfisher settles French tax case

The home-improvement giant Kingfisher said a French tax case had been settled in its favour after a decade-long dispute and would result in an exceptional credit of £145m to 2013-14 earnings. France’s ultimate court, the Conseil d’Etat, had considered the case, which dates back to 2003, and found in Kingfisher’s favour.

Cable to divulge Royal Mail details

Vince Cable is expected to unveil details of a planned float of the Royal Mail in a matter of days. A statement by the Business Secretary on an IPO of the postal service could be delivered this week, and maybe even tomorrow. The Business, Innovation and Skills department handling the sale said MPs would get an update by 18 July.

Times Educational Supplement sold

The publisher of the Times Educational Supplement has changed hands for a third time in eight years. Private equity giant TPG has bought TSL Education for £400m from Charterhouse. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation owned the TES until 2005, when it was sold to Exponent, before Charterhouse bought it two years later.

Bovis Homes’ sales rise by 60%

A 60 per cent rise in sales helped Bovis Homes share in the housebuilding industry’s Budget-inspired revival. Bovis said sales reservations were “ahead of its expectations”, up 40 per cent year on year for the first six months of 2013. Since April, the improvement has been even more dramatic.

Clifford Chance earnings dip 6%

Clifford Chance saw a 6 per cent fall in partnership profit to £404m in the year to May, but top partners still took home £1m each. The law firm advised and acted on cases including Glencore’s acquisition of Xstrata, the Qatari bid for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the Autonomy dispute in the year.

Headlam issues profits warning

Headlam has issued a profits warning and claimed its market was contracting. The UK group, which distributes hard flooring and carpets across Europe, said markets in the UK and on the Continent “have shown continued signs of contraction during the first six months of 2013”.

Local Shopping Reit sells portfolio

Directors of a property firm floated to invest in local shops just before the credit crunch struck will walk away with a payout of about £950,000. The Local Shopping Reit’s £173m portfolio is to be sold off and returned to shareholders following a strategic review.

Strikes close two Amplats sites

Work at two Anglo-American Platinum mines in South Africa halted yesterday as 5,600 staff began a wildcat strike. Amplats said employees at its Thembelani and Khuseleka 1 mines were demanding that it rehires 19 sacked shop stewards.

Npower to close new biomass plant

Npower will close a newly converted 750-megawatt biomass plant at Tilbury by the end of next week after scrapping a plan to keep it running longer. It had an option to extend the operating time if it was granted an environmental permit.