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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 1 Febuary 2011

CBI chief calls for growth strategy

John Cridland, the new head of the CBI, the employer’s lobby group, yesterday called on the Government to come up with a growth strategy as strong as its austerity drive. In his first day in the job, he also praised the Coalition’s efforts to reduce the deficit.

Mordashov raises his stake in Tui

Alexei Mordashov, the Russian steel tycoon behind Severstal, has lifted his stake in TUI AG to 20.5 per cent. Mr Mordashov said he was backing the German group’s plans to focus on its tourist assets, which are bundled in the UK-listed TUI Travel.

National Grid cuts 1,200 jobs in US

National Grid is cutting 1,200 jobs in its US business in a restructuring aimed at cutting costs by $200m (£125m) annually. The move was announced alongside an update for the three months to the end of January, forecasting an increase in annual profits thanks to advantageous weather conditions and strong growth in the US.

Exxon profits beat forecasts

Exxon Mobil reported a better-than-expected 53 per cent rise in quarterly profit, helped by a lower tax rate and a surge in natural gas production in the US and Qatar. The world’s largest publicly traded oil company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $9.25bn (£5.77bn) as revenues jumped to $105bn (£65.55bn), helped by higher crude oil prices.

Cisco to invest $500m in UK

Cisco is to invest $500m (£312m) in the United Kingdom over the next five years, as the top American network equipment maker tries to bolster its presence overseas. Cisco said its investment plan through 2015 would include spending on new technology facilities in East London, including at the Olympic Park site.

Bribery penalties are postponed

The Bribery Act, due in April, has been delayed by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to give companies time to deal with new rules that will penalise those without “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery when seeking contracts.

Fears grow over future of Borders

Shares in Borders dived to a two year low after the US bookseller said it would delay payments to key vendors, including publishers, to preserve cash. The company, which has hinted it is considering a bankruptcy filing, has lost sales to online and digital retailers.

Benetton warns of rising cotton price

The Italian clothing group Benetton warned that the rise in cotton prices will continue to erode profit margins, confirming a trend seen at many of its European peers. The maker of colourful sweaters said revenues were stable in 2010 at €2.05bn (£175bn).

Waitrose sales pass £5bn a year

Waitrose has smashed through the annual sales barrier of £5bn for the first time. The grocer increased revenues by 6.4 per cent for the week to 29 January to help it achieve the milestone, which represents sales growth of almost 10 per cent for the past year.

Crackdown on silent calls

Companies who engage in “silent calling,” face fines of up to £2m, it was announced yesterday. New rules come into force today to deter call centres from using automated dialling which leads to silence if an agent is unavailable when the call is answered. Telecoms watchdog Ofcom said it received 9,000 complaints last year, with more than two-thirds of complainants getting two or more calls a day from the same firm.

Toshiba sued for discrimination

A senior human resources manager at Toshiba has filed a $100m (£62m) lawsuit accusing a US unit of the Japanese technology firm of gender bias against women in pay and promotions. The plaintiff contends that Toshiba America Inc pays women lower salaries and bonuses than men who perform similar work. A Toshiba spokesman said the company does not discuss pending litigation.

GreeneKing buys Cloverleaf

Greene King has paid £55.8m for the pub restaurant group Cloverleaf, adding another 12 restaurants to the brewer’s existing pub estate, which includes the Hungry Horse carvery chain, as well as Loch Fyne seafood restaurants, Belhaven and the Old English chain. It plans to open 10 new Cloverleaf pubs within two years.

AA buys the BSM driving school

The British School of Motoring, the UK’s largest driving school, has been sold to motoring giant the AA, which bought it out of administration. The administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said the move would preserve the 100-year-old BSM brand, safeguard 2,400 jobs and allow 30,000 customers to carry on lessons.

Antisoma dives after drug setback

Shares in Antisoma dived 64 per cent after the biotech firm revealed a key leukaemia drug had failed in a final-stage clinical trial. It also halted the development of another cancer treatment after early data from an ongoing penultimate-stage trial showed that the result was likely to be inconclusive.

Glaxo settles Avandiacase

GlaxoSmithKline has settled a US court case alleging that its Avandia diabetes drug had led to the death of man from a heart attack. The settlement in the James Burford case means that other Avandia-related cases brought in Philadelphia by attorneys Joseph Zonies and Thomas Cartmell have been resolved.

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