The Business Matrix: Tuesday 19 April 2011

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The Independent Online

New chairman for Lloyd’s of London

The Lloyd’s of London insurance market named John Nelson, a former investment banker-turned-non-executive director of the UK’s biggest companies, to be its new chairman, taking over in October. He is current chairman of Hammerson property trust.

Gartmore boss’s bonus criticised

Henderson’s Stephen Peak has attacked the decision to give Gartmore’s chief executive, Jeff Meyer, a £1.2m bonus as part of his payoff after the company’s fire sale to Henderson. Mr Peak, whose funds held 14 per cent of Gartmore, suggested the money go to charity.

Kheraj returns to Barclays – part time

Naguib Kheraj, the City veteran who quit Lazard recently after just six weeks, is returning to Barclays as a strategic adviser. Mr Kheraj, a former finance director at the bank, will spend 30 per cent of his time on the role, but will dedicate most of his time to his charity work.

Ferrero boss dies in accident

Pietro Ferrero, the joint chief executive of the Italian chocolate maker Ferrero, has died in an accident. The family-owned group, which in 60 years has turned itself into a €6bn business, emerged from the shadows in 2009 when it considered a bid for Cadbury. MORE

LVMH’s luxury goods doing well

LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, posted sparkling first-quarter sales figures for all of its businesses. The maker of Moët et Chandon champagne and Louis Vuitton handbags saw its sales grow by 17 per cent to €5.3bn (£4.6bn) over the three months, and reported “strong momentum” in the US, Europe and Asia.

Chaucer tsunami bill put at £35m

Chaucer, the listed Lloyd’s of London insurance group, expects to receive claims for up to £35m following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. It has also confirmed that it is in takeover talks with several suitors.

Eurotunnel enjoys rise in bookings

Eurotunnel is enjoying what it described as a “substantial” surge in bookings as Britons take advantage of the extra bank holiday. The update came as the Channel Tunnel operator posted a 24 per cent rise in revenues to €179m (£157m) in the first quarter of 2010, despite tougher comparatives a year ago when the period included Easter. Eurostar benefited from the soaring price of oil after tour and ferry operators introduced fuel surcharges.

Nomos gets IPO away in London

Russia’s Nomos Bank is raising at least $718m (£442m) by selling 22 per cent of the company on London and Moscow stock exchanges. Nomos, Russia’s eighth-biggest bank, managed to get its flotation away, despite committing to invest just 5.5bn roubles (£120m) back into the bank, with the rest being pocketed by 18.7 per cent shareholder Roman Korbacka. Nomos said it would be valued at $3.2bn following the flotation.

Southern Cross seeks rent cuts

Southern Cross’s lenders have postponed a test of its banking covenants until 31 May as it tries to negotiate rent reductions with landlords in the wake of local authority spending cuts. Britain’s largest care homes operator, with 38,600 beds across 752 properties, had warned a breach was “imminent”. Its shares, which peaked at more than £6 in 2007, bounced back by 7 per cent to 11.25p.

Government levy ‘disappointing’

The oil giant Chevron has warned there may be unintended consequences from the Government’s £2bn raid on profits of North Sea oil and gas companies. John Watson, the chairman of Chevron, said in an interview that the move to raise the levy on the firms in order to fund a cut in fuel duty was disappointing and hinted that it could affect the company’s decisions on where to invest.

More affordable homes – at a cost

Government plans to allow housing associations to charge higher rents could lead to an extra 56,500 affordable homes being built by 2015, according to Hometrack. But the move to let associations charge up to 80 per cent of market rents could lead to rents being unaffordable for tenants, the housing specialist’s report found.

Britons quick to spend earnings

One in five Britons has blown nearly all of their earnings within a week of getting paid, a survey suggests today. Around 19 per cent of people admitted that they spent the bulk of their wages in the week following their pay day, while 14 per cent ran out of money by the middle of the month, according to discount website Vouchercodes.co.uk.

Synthes in merger talks with J&J

The Swiss medical devices group Synthes has confirmed it is in merger talks with the US’s Johnson & Johnson about a deal that would be J&J’s largest acquisition on record, at about $20bn. Synthes, which posted sales of $3.7bn in 2010, makes nails, screws and plates to fix broken bones, as well as artificial spine discs.

Warner Chilcott to axe 500 workers

The drugs company Warner Chilcott is to restructure its European operations and cut about 500 jobs – a fifth of its workforce – after its key osteoporosis drug Actonel lost exclusivity last year. The company said jobs would be affected in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

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