The Business Matrix: Tuesday 11 February 2014


Photos by top F1 drivers go on sale

Photographs taken by Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and other top F1 drivers have raised more than £20,000 at a charity auction. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were also among those who donated images to the Zoom picture auction in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Water bills to rise by £8 in April

Annual water and sewerage bills are to rise by an average of 2 per cent – £8 – from April, according to the industry body Water UK. Most firms are increasing prices by less than the rate of inflation though the biggest, Thames Water, will impose a 3.4 per cent hike. The changes are within parameters fixed by the regulator Ofwat.

Costs force Toyota out of Australia

Toyota, the last big car maker in Australia, has announced it will stop manufacturing vehicles there because of soaring costs. About 2,500 jobs will be lost after Toyota said the strong Australian dollar, manufacturing costs and fierce competition meant it was “unviable” to keep making cars in Oz. General Motors and Ford quit last year.

Bupa expands with acquisition

Bupa has stepped up the  expansion of its dentistry service with the acquisition of Barbican Dental Care, a business with nine central London dental centres and more than 50,000 patient appointments a year. The deal brings the number of dental centres that Bupa now operates to 31 across the country.

Prime NY building sells for £167m

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, the London-listed group controlled by Singapore mogul Kwek Leng Beng, is to acquire the Novotel New York Times Square, a 34-storey building situated in the heart of the Manhattan theatre district, for £167m. The building contains hotel, office and retail space.

McDonald’s sales hit by the weather

The fast food chain McDonald’s said its US sales performance in January was impacted by bad weather as sales fell 3.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Its global sales figure rose 1.2 per cent, helped by trading improvements in Europe and in the region covering Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Hyder crashes after profit slump

Shares in the design and engineering consultants Hyder Consulting crashed 28 per cent after it issued a shock profits warning. The company blamed delays in new contracts being awarded in Australia and the Middle East. The shares fell 181.5p to 458p.

Google takes  US second spot

Google has overtaken Exxon to become the second biggest company in the United States by market value. According to FactSet, Google was worth $395bn (£241bn) on Friday night, just ahead of the oil company but still behind Apple’s $463.6bn.

Catlin profits soar despite conditions

Profits at the insurer Catlin rose by almost a third last year to $432m (£264m) despite tough conditions. Although catastrophe losses were low, flows  of money into the sector weighed on the prices underwriters can charge.