The Business Matrix: Tuesday 18 October 2011

Warm weather hits H&M sales

The Swedish budget fashion group Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, with 2,363 stores in 41 countries, reported a 7 per cent drop in underlying sales in September. It said its autumn collections had been well received but trading had been hit by unseasonably warm weather in Europe.

IAG and Etihad eye up Aer Lingus

British Airway’s parent company IAG and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways have had talks with the Irish Government about buying its 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus. The government is looking to sell its stake as part of a privatisation drive required under its EU/IMF bailout. Both airlines are also interested in BMI, which Lufthansa is looking to sell.

Travelzest given more time for bid

Tour operator Travelzest, which owns nudist firm Peng Travel as well as luxury brands such as Best of Morocco, has requested more time to hold takeover talks with Red Label Vacations. Red Label had until 5pm on Monday to declare whether it wanted to make an offer, but has been granted an extension until 14 November by the Takeover Panel.

Pyrrho concerned over MWB deal

Pyrrho Investments, the largest shareholder of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotel chains operator MWB, said it was concerned about the firm’s “expensive” refinancing deal, and was likely to vote against it at today’s extraordinary meeting. Last month, MWB agreed with its lenders to extend a major part of its £283m facility to end-2014.

New bank aims to lend to SMEs

A new savings and lending bank launched yesterday with the aim of making it easier for small firms to borrow cash. Shawbrook Bank, backed by RBS Equity Finance, aims to lend more than £250m over the next 12 months. It will operate through brokers and financial advisers rather than a branch network.

iPhone 4S sells 4 million in 3 days

Apple has sold four million of its new iPhone 4S smartphones in its first three days on the market, helped by availability in more countries and on more networks around the world. The device may challenge Microsoft’s Kinect games system, which sold eight million in 60 days, as the fastest-selling gadget of all time.

Aluminium assets go under hammer

Rio Tinto has kicked off the £5bn restructuring of its aluminium business, which could see its UK smelter and power station at Lynemouth in Northumberland sold or closed. Rio admitted the potential options for the site included closure. The business was formed when it bought Alcan for £24bn in 2007.

Evraz seeks London listing

The Russian steel-maker Evraz, part-owned by Chelsea football club’s owner Roman Abramovich, has become the latest in a wave of Russian miners to seek a higher profile via a London stock market listing. Evraz, which could join the FTSE 100, said the move would give better access to capital markets.

Amec wins £150m contract for Clair

Amec has won a £150m engineering and project management contract as part of an existing tie-up with the oil giant BP. The work, part of the second phase of the Clair oil field, off the west coast of the Shetland Islands, was awarded by BP and its partners in the field, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron.

Halliburton profit soars

Halliburton, the world’s second-largest oilfield services company, posted higher-than-expected quarterly profits, but its stock fell because of the less exuberant outlook of its management. Halliburton’s profits surge in the past year has been driven by a boom in extracting oil and gas from US shale rock.