The Business Matrix: Tuesday 19 March 2013


Swiss in corporate tax U-turn

Switzerland has bowed to pressure from Brussels to reform its corporate-tax law after a row over the incentives it offers to multinational firms. The nation is home to thousands of global companies depriving other countries of up to SFr36.5bn (£25.5bn) in tax revenue each year, according to the left-wing Swiss think-tank Denknetz.

HSBC accused over £51m fraud

Argentina's tax agency has uncovered 392m pesos (£51m) in fraudulent transactions by HSBC and said it has asked the judicial system to probe the European bank for alleged tax evasion and money laundering. HSBC, Europe's largest bank, was fined $1.9bn last year for similar irregularities in Mexico and the United States.

New home for Cala in £210m deal

Cala, the upmarket housebuilder, has been sold to private-equity buyers by Lloyds Banking Group for £210m. Legal & General and Patron Capital Partners are taking equal stakes of 46.5 per cent alongside a 7 per cent holding for current management. Cala was the first Scottish firm to list in London, 137 years ago.

£1.1m for Alliance Trust chief in 2012

Katherine Garrett-Cox, the chief executive of Alliance Trust, the fund-management business, pocketed almost £1.1m in pay and benefits last year. Ms Garrett-Cox, 45, took home a salary of just over £425,000 and a bonus of £525,000. Including benefits, her package reached £1,098,284.

Stakis to open 80 nurseries

Evros Stakis, the son of the late hotels magnate Sir Reo Stakis, is planning to open a chain of 80 daycare nurseries across the UK. Stakis Day Care Nurseries is being launched to take advantage of the growing demand for childcare in the country.

Highest bonus for Persimmon boss

The outgoing boss of housebuilder Persimmon racked up a maximum bonus of more than £1m last year, the firm's annual report revealed yesterday. Mike Farley, who retires next month, earned the payout after the builder raised pre-tax profits by 52 per cent. The result triggered a maximum 150 per cent of salary payout of £1.02m.

Rating agencies 'must improve'

The credit-rating agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's must improve the way in which they are changing how they rate banks, the European supervisor said yesterday. The European Securities and Markets Authority said they had "shortcomings in the processes of disclosure and implementation of changes in bank-rating methodologies".

Berkeley acquires new sites

The housebuilder Berkeley Group has swelled its land bank in London and the South-east as a lingering shortage of homes continues to work in its favour. Berkeley has snapped up new sites at Finchley and Mill Hill, and in Maidenhead in Berkshire, putting it on course to meet its target of 10 per cent growth.

VW recalls vehicles in China

Volkswagen will recall an unspecified number of vehicles in China to fix a possible gearbox problem after coming under criticism from state-run China Central Television. Volkswagen Group China and its local joint-venture partners said they would voluntarily recall cars.

Tech firms to ditch 1,600 staff

Wireless-equipment maker Ericsson and Switzerland-based chipmaker STMicroelectronics are to lay off up to 1,600 workers as part of a plan for splitting up their loss-making joint venture. Around 700 of the job cuts will be in Europe, mostly in Sweden.