The Business Matrix: Tuesday 15 April 2014


L’Oreal faces up to US drag on growth

The world’s largest cosmetics maker L’Oreal has reported its weakest quarterly sales performance for more than four years, as slowing demand for consumer products in North America hit growth. Revenue increased 3.5 per cent the Paris-based company said, the smallest gain since the final quarter of 2009.

Zeebox switches name to Beamly

Zeebox, the social-media company backed by BSkyB, renamed itself Beamly as it seeks to be a dedicated social network for TV viewers. The app lets users talk about shows and acts as a programme guide and remote control for the TV. Founder Anthony Rose said Beamly was “designed for TV” unlike Facebook or Twitter.

Walgreens may move to Europe

US drugstore chain Walgreens, which owns 45 per cent of UK’s Alliance Boots, is under pressure from shareholders to relocate to Europe for tax benefits. Shareholders owning nearly  5 per cent of the company have lobbied Walgreens’ management to use its ownership stake in Alliance Boots to change its legal domicile to Europe.

Slow but steady steps to recovery

Output at eurozone factories rose in line with expectations in February, driven by production of intermediate and non-durable goods. The EU data suggests the area’s recovery is gradually strengthening.  Industrial output in 18 countries using the single currency rose 0.2 per cent on the month, according to Eurostat.

Shire eyes £780m Belgian capture

British firm Shire, which makes drugs for rare genetic diseases, is among potential bidders for Belgian eye-medicine company ThromboGenics, valued at $1.3bn (£780m). But Swiss rival Novartis is leading the bids because it already has a deal with ThromboGenics to market its medicine outside the US.

Australians buy 10% of Yorkshire

Kelda Holdings has reportedly sold a 10 per cent stake in Yorkshire Water to Australia pension fund State Infrastructure Holdings. The deal for the Bradford-based utility company, which supplies 1.9 million households in the north of England, is believed to be worth between £200m and £500m.

Glencore snaps up bribery row miner

Glencore Xstrata spent $1.35bn buying a mining company that was fined C$10.4m (£5.6m) in Canada last year for bribery and whose co-founder Brad Griffiths died in a boating accident in 2011. Glencore is buying London Stock Exchange-listed Caracal Energy for its oil and gas in Chad.

French minister admits rise error

French finance minister Michel Sapin admitted the government had raised taxes too far. “To get the boat afloat, we had to increase taxes. Our view is that we raised them too much,” he said. But he claimed the 75 per cent rate of income tax was not driving top executives away.

Losses slashed  at Citi Holdings

Citigroup posted better-than-expected quarterly income as losses on its troubled assets shrunk by $500m. The loss at Citi Holdings, which holds duff assets left over from the financial crisis, eased to $292m from $798m a year earlier.

EU plans curbs in trading overhaul

Europe’s financial chief promised the toughest-ever clampdown on superfast high-frequency traders yesterday. Michel Barnier spoke a day ahead of a European Parliament vote to impose curbs as part of  a wider overhaul of markets.