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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 13 March 2012

$2.6bn payment to Boeing was illegal

The US funnelled at least $2.6bn in illegal subsidies to Boeing through the space agency Nasa to develop the aircraft maker's Dreamliner aircraft, the World Trade Organisation has ruled. The decision is the latest in a long dispute in which the trade arbiter has declared both Boeing and European rival Airbus in breach of rules against state aid.

Laird gains £20m in antennas deal

The fast-changing world of smartphones has the one-time shipbuilder turned technology company Laird to sell part of its traditional mobile handset antennas business for £20m. China's Shenzhen Sunway Communication is buying the subsidiary in cash as the British company looks to focus on more hi-tech wireless technology.

Stagecoach in £6.5m takeover

Stagecoach Theatre Arts, the performing arts school which counts Myleene Klass among its ex-teachers, has new owners after a £6.5m takeover yesterday. The 65p-a-share offer from Lifeskills Education, the vehicle of serial small businesses investor Shirin Gandhi, comes amid plans to expand the struggling business overseas.

Low interest rates limits insolvencies

The administration specialist Begbies Traynor said activity levels in the insolvency market remained subdued in the three months to 31 January, helped by record-low interest rates. The Manchester-based company said its insolvency division reduced its headcount to 470 from 501 at the end of last year as it reduced its costs.

Danish deal off menu for Cobham

Aerospace and defence systems firm Cobham has ended its interest in communications specialist Thrane & Thrane after failing to win the Danish company's backing for a £273m takeover. Dorset-based Cobham had planned to make it one of its main global businesses and a focus for future investment.

World's oldest bank seeks funds

The biggest shareholder in Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena may sell a chunk of the world's oldest bank in the market if it cannot find a buyer before a 15 March deadline. The Monte dei Paschi banking foundation is racing against time to sell a stake of up to 15.5 per cent to repay €1.1bn of debt.

Spain gets grilling over its deficit

Eurozone finance ministers grilled Spain yesterday over its budget deficit, which is set to break stricter new EU rules this year, stressing that Madrid must get back on target in 2013. Spain this month admitted that it had missed its 2011 target and would not meet this year's either.

Campari banks on Wild Turkey

Campari is hoping strong sales of Wild Turkey bourbon and its Aperol aperitif in new markets such as Russia and Brazil will help offset weaker consumption in Europe after its annuals profits missed forecasts. The Italian drinks firm saw profits rise less than 2 per cent.

VW boss drives off with double pay

Martin Winterkorn's pay packet nearly doubled last year at Volkswagen as Europe's top carmaker posted record profits and deliveries. Mr Winterkorn made €17.5m in salary and bonuses, up from €9.3m, making him the best paid CEO at a German blue-chip firm.

Deal just the ticket for FirstGroup

FirstGroup has agreed to sell its bus operations in North Devon to the rival train and bus company Stagecoach for £2.8m. The deal includes around 30 vehicles, 100 staff and a depot facility in Barnstaple.

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