The Business Matrix: Tuesday 13 May 2014


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Lonmin’s profits fall after strike

The South African platinum miner Lonmin has reported a 63 per cent fall first-half earnings to £20m as a 15-week strike crippled its production. The figures came amid news that four miners had been killed in violence at its mines since the weekend. The miner said it produced 215,117 ounces of platinum, down 41 per cent from a year earlier.

Egdon bids to buy UK shale assets

Egdon Resources is in advanced talks to buy Alkane Energy’s shale assets in Britain as interest in the country’s nascent shale gas industry gathers pace. Alkane holds oil and gas licences for more than 800 sq km of land expected to contain shale gas. Last week, the rival shale gas operator IGas bought Dart Energy.

Late Easter boosts Heathrow figures

The late Easter boosted  Heathrow’s figures in April, with 6.2 million passengers travelling through the airport – up 6.7 per cent on the previous year. But even allowing for Easter, underlying growth was 1.9 per cent ahead with flights to and from emerging markets such as China and Mexico continuing to grow.

Shire buys rare diseases firm

Shire has bought the San Diego-based biopharmaceuticals firm Lumena Pharmaceuticals, a company with rare disease pipeline assets, for at least $260m (£154m). The London-listed drug maker said that buying Lumena Pharma, whose programmes include treatments for liver diseases, would add to its rare diseases portfolio.

Mild winter sees dip in funerals

Dignity, the UK’s second-biggest funeral care firm after the Co-operative, reported a “quiet” start to the year as the mild winter meant deaths in the first quarter of 2014 were 7.5 per cent down on a year ago But the firm also saw first-quarter revenues rise 1.9 per cent after it bought eight funeral parlours.

US Bird’s Eye flies over to Hillshire

Hillshire Brands is buying its US rival Pinnacle Foods for $4.3bn (£2.5bn) in a deal that will give it Sara Lee desserts and Bird’s Eye frozen foods in North America. Blackstone, which owns 51 per cent of Pinnacle, is backing the deal. Bird’s Eye in Europe is owned by Permira.

Capita makes strong start to year

Capita told shareholders at its annual meeting yesterday it had made a strong start to the year, with £1.1bn of new sales including deals with Transport for London, John Lewis and the Ministry of Defence. Its bid pipeline now stands at £5.5bn, against £4.2bn in November.

Minimum wage may hit £15 mark

Swiss business leaders are wary of an 18 May referendum that could see Switzerland adopt the world’s highest minimum wage of nearly £15 an hour. A recent opinion poll found 64 per cent of voters oppose the proposal but the system of popular votes has brought surprises before.

London leads housing recovery

Savills said it saw strong demand for houses in the £1m to £2m bracket in London as the capital continues to lead the UK’s housing recovery. The property business manages residential and commercial property around the world.

Fitness First upgrade pays off

Fitness First said work to upgrade its gym venues is starting to pay off with new members. The group posted a £61m loss for 2013 thanks to restructuring costs in the wake of its rescue by a distressed debt specialist two years ago.