The Business Matrix: Tuesday 10 March 2015


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The Independent Online

Landlords retain Mayfair homes

The Crown Estate, Grosvenor and international parties accounted for most of the £17.7bn spent in London’s affluent Mayfair and St James’s over the last decade, according to agent GVA. Research found most landlords will hold on to properties for generations, attracted to secure income, rising rents and redevelopment potential.

Gemfields enjoys auction surge

Precious stones miner Gemfields saw surging auction sales more than triple underlying profits to $61.7m (£41m). The parent of jewellery brand Fabergé said the sale of a 40.23 carat ‘Rhino Ruby’ helped it achieved a record Gemfields auction result of $43.3m last December. Turnover for the six months to 31 December rose 57 per cent to $103.4m.

Borrowing just got a lot cheaper

The cost of borrowing for eurozone members fell as the European Central Bank embarked on a €1.1trn (£792bn) quantitative easing programme, buying government debt with new cash. Greece, excluded from QE because its bonds are junk rated, is the only nation to have debt costs rise. The ECB will buy €60bn in bonds monthly.

Balfour Beatty wins £250m deal

Balfour Beatty, the construction giant which issued six profit warnings in two years, has won a £250m contract to build and manage flood defences along the Thames Estuary, the largest deal of its kind in the UK. It will protect 1.25 million people in London, Essex and Kent by creating tidal walls and refurbishing flood barriers.

CRH shares hit as merger falters

Irish building materials group CRH saw shares tumble 70p to 1,727p after the merger between construction giants Holcim and Lafarge was called into question. CRH had agreed to buy £4.7bn of assets sold in the deal but the removal of the Swiss franc cap saw Holcim’s value surge, while Lafarge’s dipped.

Mulberry close to appointment

British luxury handbag maker Mulberry could announce a new chief executive as soon as today, according to Reuters. The company aims to have one installed by July when its new creative director joins, after ex-boss Bruno Guillon quit almost a year ago after a move more upmarket failed to pay off.

Pizza Express feasts on 9% rise

Restaurant chain Pizza Express saw sales rise 9 per cent to £231m in the six months to January 11, thanks to 11 new openings. The company, which sells over 34 million pizzas in UK supermarkets every year, said underlying earnings rose 15.8 per cent to £55m in the period.

OakNorth gains banking licence

OakNorth, which is a new lending bank for fast-growth small and medium sized companies, said it has gained a banking licence and appointed a number of business leaders to its board. They include Lord Turner, who is the former head of the Financial Services Authority.

BP discovers gas near Egypt

BP has made a second large gas discovery off Egypt in a concession estimated to contain more than 5trn cubic feet. The energy giant unveiled the find as it confirmed it is investing £12bn with partners in the West Nile Delta concession.

Investment in energy may suffer

The steep fall in energy prices will hit investment in oil and gas projects worldwide and the industry may shelve about $1trn of planned projects globally in the next couple of years, Amin Nasser, a senior executive at the Saudi oil giant Aramco, said.