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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 22 January 2013

Sales climb at car dealer HR Owen

Luxury car seller HR Owen announced yesterday that a strong performance by Rolls-Royce and Bentley showrooms towards the end of the year meant 2012 profits will beat forecasts. The group refurbished and put a new team into its Berkeley Square Rolls and Bentley showroom over the summer, which boosted sales.

Stelios flogs part of easyJet stake

EasyJet's founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and his family have sold more than £5m-worth of shares, 1 per cent of their 37 per cent holding, and warned the board of the budget airline that they will sell the rest of their stake if it places a large aircraft order. Sir Stelios said he wanted to "send a clear message to our directors".

New supermarket ombudsman

The first ombudsman designed to crack down on the big supermarkets bullying suppliers in the £163bn grocery sector has been named by the Government. Christine Tacon, who ran the Co-operative group's farming business for 11 years, will have the power to fine the UK's 10 biggest supermarkets, including Tesco and Asda.

Travelzest chiefs' buyout rejected

The board of Travelzest, the company which used to organise nudist holidays, has rejected a management buyout. The travel group, whose brands include and two Canadian holiday businesses, had been considering selling the Canadian businesses to the chief executive, Jonathan Carroll, and finance director, Adrian Cobbold.

Santander denies Clydesdale talks

Santander has denied that it is in talks over buying some 300 branches of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank from their owner National Australia Bank. A UK spokesman for Spanish-owned Santander said it is focused on organic growth and there have been no discussions with NAB over a £2bn deal.

Moscow Exchange allows outsiders

The Kremlin's bid to stop Russian companies floating on the London Stock Exchange was boosted yesterday after Moscow Exchange said it will allow outside investors to buy shares in it which will only be traded on its own market. Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to stop the drain of equity.

UK considers nuclear asset sale

Britain is considering a sale of its stake in Urenco, the nuclear fuel producer formed by the British, German and Dutch governments in the 1970s, a UK Government spokesman said yesterday. He said the Government was discussing its options with Urenco's other shareholders.

Spanish banking workers to strike

Workers at three of Spain's bailed-out banks will stage strikes in coming weeks as they fight mass layoffs, unions said yesterday. Workers from Bankia, Banco de Valencia and NovaGalicia Banco will strike on 6 February and hold partial strikes before then.

Abu Dhabi firms plot mega merger

Abu Dhabi's two biggest property firms have agreed a state-backed merger to create a business with $13bn (£8.2bn) of assets. The tie-up between Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate creates one of the largest property firms in the Middle East.

Profits soar at Portmeirion

Pottery manufacturer Portmeirion said that after a strong Christmas, sales for the whole of 2012 had risen by 3 per cent to at least £55m. That should ensure it hits City forecasts of pre-tax profits up from £6.3m to £6.7m for the year.

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