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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 17 May 2011

Aon signs up for Cheesegrater

The US insurance giant Aon is to become the first tenant in the Cheesegrater, a skyscraper in the City of London that is due to be completed in 2014. Aon will occupy almost a third of the 48-storey tower, according to the developers, British Land and Oxford Properties. The offices, officially known as the Leadenhall Building, will be the Chicago-based insurance broker’s UK base.

Cranswick wins pork exports deal

Cranswick, a major supplier to UK supermarkets, has secured approval to export its pork products to the US. The group, which supplies pig products for the Jamie Oliver brand as well as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, also posted an 8 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the year to 31 March to £47.1m yesterday, as underlying sales rose to £758m. But it joined rivals in warning of weak confidence on the high street.

Phoenix cash flow healthy

Phoenix, the life insurance holding group of Pearl, Britannic and Abbey National Life, is on track to meet its cash generation target of £750m to £850m this year after generating £300m in the four months to April. Assets under management fell slightly to £67bn at the end of March from December. The group buys up life funds which are closed to new customers.

AOL launches 33 new US news sites

AOL is expanding its US local news network Patch with the launch of 33 sites, taking its total to 837 across the nation. The Patch sites are rolling out in communities in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina – which play an early role in the US presidential election. The new hyperlocal sites are part of AOL’s expansion of editorial operations after buying the Huffington Post.

Wood to return £1bn to investors

The oil services Wood Group is to return £1.05bn to shareholders after the sale of its Well Support division to US firm GE. Investors have to tender their shares at a price of between 605p to 625p by 3 June.

Autonomy moves into the cloud

Autonomy, the data sorting software giant, is buying the digital archiving, eDiscovery and online back-up businesses of the US group Iron Mountain for $380m (£234m), to boost its presence in cloud-computing.

Portas to lead high street review

Mary Portas, the so-called Queen of Shops, has been hired by the Government to lead an independent review into the UK’s troubled high street. The review aims to identify what the Government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more “prosperous and diverse high streets”.

Mellier takes over at DeBeers

The diamond producer De Beers named industry outsider Philippe Mellier, an executive at the French engineer group Alstom, as its new chief executive, ending a leadership search that has lasted almost a year. Mr Mellier, a mechanical engineer by training, has also worked for Ford, Renault and Volvo.

Tognum backs new Rolls bid

Daimler and Rolls-Royce have won the backing of Tognum for their takeover of the speciality engine maker by sweetening their offer to 26 euros a share. The German group, once owned by Daimler, said it welcomed the new offer, which values it at €3.4bn. A deal will allow Rolls to expand its marine business.

Chrysler gears up to pay off aid

The US car giant Chrysler is set to restructure its planned refinancing after investors balked at its plans. The company is looking to raise $6bn from bond sales and a new bank loan, which would help it to repay the $7bn government aid it received in 2009. It is likely to have to pay a higher interest rate to secure the funds.

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