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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 14 May 2013


High rollers knock 5% off Rank profits

Grosvenor Casinos’ owner, Rank, has warned that annual results will dip below last year’s thanks to freezing weather – and the roll of the dice. A day after its purchase of Gala Coral casinos the company said the success of “high-roller” customers in London had contributed to a 5 per cent fall in like-for-like revenues in the past 18 weeks.

Glencore Xstrata cans Aussie plan

Glencore Xstrata, the newly merged mining and commodities trading behemoth, has shelved plans for a £648m coal export terminal in eastern Australia. The decision to halt the Balaclava Island project follows a review of the Xstrata-backed scheme less than two weeks after the completion of the biggest merger in mining history.

Early Easter hits Heathrow traffic

Heathrow’s passenger numbers dipped 0.7 per cent to 5.8 million in April. The airport blamed the earlier timing of Easter this year for the decline. Combining March and April’s figures, traffic was up 1.6 per cent over the same period in 2012, mainly because of bigger jets landing at the airport, as its take-off and landing slots are full to capacity.

Cash Isa deposits fall for first time

The level of savings in Isas fell for the first time in the tax year to 2012 as Britons struggling to pay household bills no longer had spare cash to put into in the tax-free accounts. New subscriptions fell by £200m to £53.5bn, according to the accountant UHY Hacker Young. Record-low interest rates for cash Isa were also putting savers off, it said.

Blinkx boss hails boom in video ads

“Video advertising is the fastest-growing of all the sub-sectors of advertising and we’re fortunate to find ourselves right in the cross-hairs,” the chief executive of the video search engine Blinkx declared yesterday. His comments came as the company announced an eightfold leap in annual profits to $17.7m (£11.5m).

Flybe shares soar on talk of slot sale

Struggling regional airline Flybe is in talks to raise vital funds by selling runway slots at London Gatwick airport. The move could provide a further boost to the budget carrier easyJet. The potential sell-off sent Exeter-based Flybe’s shares soaring more than 20 per cent on hopes of a much-needed cash injection.

China falls short in factory output

China’s factory output growth increased by 9.3 per cent last month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics yesterday. Although the figures beat those for March, when they hit a seven-month low, they still missed market expectations of 9.5 per cent.

Liabilities hit new record high

Pension schemes are sitting on a funding gap of more than £100bn, as low bond yields send liabilities to record highs, according to Mercer. The consultant’s reported the aggregate deficit for defined benefit schemes stood at £108bn at 30 April, compared with £89bn at the end of March.

UK ‘missing out on African openings’

Britain risks missing out on the “huge opportunities” in Africa by focusing too much on the Bric economies, it has been claimed. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna MP said stronger ties needed to be built with countries across the continent.

Unite has let 75% of its student rooms

The student accommodation group Unite said that 75 per cent of its rooms were already let for the 2013/2014 academic year. The take-up compares with 62 per cent at the beginning of March and 72 per cent at the same point in 2012.