The Business Matrix: Tuesday 22 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Goldman to buy back Buffett stock

Goldman Sachs is buying back $5bn of preferred stock from Warren Buffett after the Fed revised its view of US banks’ reserves. The move ends a costly deal that helped shore up confidence in Citi when it was announced at the height of the financial crisis. MORE

Gildersleeve quits New Look

The retail veteran John Gildersleeve has quit as chairman of New Look after just 14 months at the troubled retailer. Mr Gildersleeve made his name at Tesco and has since chaired Carphone Warehouse, Gallaher and EMI, overseeing the sales of the latter two. MORE

‘Buzzy’ Krongard joins Apollo

Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard a former No 3 at the CIA, is joining the board of Apollo Global Management as the private-equity giant looks to boost its number of outside directors ahead of a planned $394m (£242m) flotation on the New York Stock Exchange.

Malone wins battle for German cable

The “cable king” John Malone has seen off the private equity firm CVC in a bidding war for the the German cable operator Kabel BW. The veteran US deal-maker is buying Kabel from the Swedish buyout group EQT, which is backed by Sweden’s Wallenberg family.

G4S becomes 2012 sponsor

The security giant G4S has been named the official provider of security services and a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The company will recruit, train and manage the 10,000-strong workforce which will handle security at the Games, alongside colleagues from the police and local authorities.

Pinnacle wins Glastonbury deal

Organisers of the Glastonbury music festival have chosen to retain Pinnacle Telecom Group to handle voice and data connectivity for the event for the second year running. Pinnacle also handles broadcasts for the BBC.

Shell gets go-ahead for Gulf drilling

America has approved Shell’s plan for deepwater oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the first such exploration plan with a complete environmental assessment since the BP oil spill. The Interior Department imposed tougher safety and environmental review requirements for exploration plans and drilling permits after the massive oil spill last summer. Thirteen other deepwater plans are awaiting a decision.

Check crisis plans, bosses are warned

Companies were urged yesterday to do more to plan for unexpected problems such as extreme weather, staff sickness or cyber attacks after a new report warned that a “blinkered” approach was putting businesses at risk. The Chartered Management Institute said fewer than half of private-sector firms were prepared for threats to their day-to-day operation. The institute urged bosses to have plans in place to deal with crises.

Centrica to pay £55m for Gateway

Centrica is buying the New York based energy retailer Gateway in its latest bid to strengthen its North American arm. The group’s Direct Energy business will pay £55m in cash for Gateway Energy Services Corporation, the British Gas owner said yesterday. Gateway brings more than 275,000 gas and electricity customer accounts, mostly in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York state.

More firms end defined schemes

One in four of Britain’s biggest companies no longer offer any of their staff access to a defined benefit pension, according to Towers Watson. About 25 per cent of FTSE 100 companies now offer only a defined contribution scheme, having closed defined benefit schemes to both new and existing members. The figure is up from 15 per cent of firms that had closed their plans a year ago.

Ofgem has the goods on ‘big six’

Gas and electricity suppliers have been accused of failing to “play it straight” with consumers as the energy watchdog unveiled a proposed shake-up of the industry. Ofgem said for the first time it had evidence that the “big six” suppliers had hiked bills in response to rising costs faster than they cut them when costs fell. MORE

Indian demand lights up Essar

Booming demand for energy in India sent earnings at Essar Energy up by a better-than-expected 8 per cent to $719m in 2010. The refiner and power generator, which was reporting its first full-year results since it listed in London last year, is 77 per cent owned by the privately-held Indian conglomerate Essar Group.

Regus confident of a rise in fortunes

Regus is expecting its UK business to return to profit this year after it found £15m of cost savings. The office rental firm blamed “extremely challenging conditions” in 2010 for a 7 per cent drop in UK sales to £179m and an operating loss of £12m. The company opened 23 office centres last year.

Sales reservations hearten Berkeley

A jump in sales reservations of 25 per cent over the winter has boosted the house builder Berkeley’s confidence in its results for this year and next. The company, which focuses on London and the Home Counties, expects earnings for the year to 31 April to be at the high end of forecasts, with further growth next year.