The Business Matrix: Tuesday 20 December 2011


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End of the road for struggling Saab

Saab ran out of room for manoeuvre yesterday when its Dutch owner filed for bankruptcy, calling time on a nine-month battle to rescue the struggling Swedish marque. The car-maker's cash problems began in March this year, after 2010 sales fell short of target. It has not made any vehicles since April.

FSA fines US insurer £2.8m

The Combined Insurance Company of America, the US insurance group, has been fined £2.8m by the Financial Services Authority. The regulator said the firm, which sold accident and sickness insurance to thousands in the UK, put customers at risk of being treated unfairly by using a "high-risk" system of pay for its sales agents.

Punters keep 888 ahead of the game

Austerity-struck Britons are shunning the outdoors, choosing instead to stay at home and spend their money on internet poker and casinos, according to 888. The online gambling group expects profits for this calendar year to be "significantly ahead of market expectations" and that next year they would be "slightly ahead" of market forecasts.

BT is latest to take Google to court

BT has become the latest in a line of tech companies to take on Google in court over alleged patent infringements. BT's case, filed in the US, focuses on patents related to Google's Android mobile system, its search site and Google Maps. Google said it believed the claims were groundless, adding that it would defend itself vigorously.

Mobile savvy staff earn £600 a day

A war for talent has broken out in the smartphone and tablet apps market, with retailers willing to pay 20 per cent extra for technology staff with experience of mobile, rather than traditional internet commerce. ReThink Recruitment said IT managers with three years mobile experience could earn up to £600 a day.

New deals keep Mouchel on target

The infrastructure firm Mouchel said future trading had been supported by new contract wins totalling £79m. The beleaguered company, which provides consulting and business services on road building and other public sector projects, said it was on course to meet full-year expectations.

Heathrow set for passenger record

Heathrow expects to fly more than 70 million passengers in 2012 – the most to have ever used the airport in a single year. The airport's owner, BAA, said it expects record numbers of passengers thanks to fuller, larger aircraft used by carriers landing on its runways.

Lenders relax rules on Yell debt

The troubled Yellow Pages publisher Yell has won crucial breathing space after lenders agreed to relax rules on its £2.6bn debt load. Yell is paying £17m in fees to the banks in return for extra headroom on its loan covenants, which are based on the ratio of debt to profits.

Prezzo snaps up three more sites

The restaurant chain Prezzo acquired three leasehold properties, together with their business and assets, from Caffe Uno Brasseries for £1.1m. The properties are located in Cobham in Surrey, Marlborough in Wiltshire and Sevenoaks in Kent.

Segro splashes out on warehouses

The industrial property specialist Segro proved that big sheds are big money as it splashed out £315m on a portfolio of warehouses with joint venture partner Moorfield Real Estate Fund II. The properties' occupiers range from Tesco to Royal Mail.