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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 21 February 2012

European decline hits Carlsberg

The Danish brewer Carlsberg warned its operating profits will be flat in 2012, hit by declining beer markets in northern and western Europe, while its biggest market, Russia, will only show a slow recovery. The world's fourth largest brewer said it expects the Russian beer market to return to only modest growth this year.

Gross lending up 10% to £10.5bn

First-time buyers rushing to beat the stamp-duty deadline helped to push up mortgage lending by 10 per cent last month – the sixth consecutive monthly increase. While borrowing fell by 14 per cent compared with December, gross mortgage lending rose to £10.5bn in January, said the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

CSR buys back $50m of shares

Shares in CSR jumped by more than a fifth yesterday after the computer chip-maker demonstrated its financial strength by announcing a shares buyback of up to $50m (£32m). The Cambridge-based company also said it would raise its final dividend from 6.5c to 7.1c per share, giving a total payout for the year of 1.03c a share.

Price of crude hits nine-month high

The price oil hit a nine-month high yesterday amid sabre-rattling by Iran, which banned oil exports to Britain and France over the weekend, further efforts by Beijing to boost Chinese growth, and signs of a Greek bailout deal. Benchmark Brent crude touched $121.15, the highest since last May, before settling at $120.05, up 47c.

Tesco's property IPO to raise £370m

Tesco has launched the initial public offering of its Thailand property fund, aiming to raise about £370m to finance future expansion. The offer is part of trend among retailers to try to profit from bundling real estate assets into a property fund, selling the fund to investors and leasing back the property.

Stagecoach goes greener for £60m

Stagecoach is to invest £60m in nearly 400 "greener" vehicles for its bus and coach fleet. The first of the new vehicles, which meet European emissions standards, will arrive in May. Its major bus businesses are in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge.

Yorkshire BS plans 12 new branches

Yorkshire Building Society's new chief executive, Chris Piling, said it would open 12 high street branches over the next two years. Recent mergers, including with the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, have helped it to grow its branch network to 224 from 135 in three years.

Rolls hails flight of new engine

Rolls-Royce's Trent extra-wide body (XWB) engine took to the skies for the first time when it helped to power an Airbus A380 making a test flight over Toulouse, France. Rolls claims its engine makes the new Airbus A380 XWB the most efficient civil aircraft in the world.

Segro sells estates to Ignis for £80m

Segro has sold a portfolio of five non-core industrial estates to funds owned by Ignis Asset Management for £80.2m. The sale is part of the company's plan to focus its UK multi-let industrial portfolio on London and South-east.

Kier lands £100m contract from EDF

Kier has won a £100m contract from the French energy giant EDF to prepare the ground for construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Kier said the contract at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station would create 350 jobs.

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