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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 23 April 2013

China drives up Hermès sales

Chinese demand for delicately made £400 silk scarves helped Hermès to offset disappointing sales growth in handbags and watches. The French group’s first-quarter sales of €856.8m (£733m) were up 10.3 per cent on the same period a year ago. Asia, excluding Japan, showed a 17 per cent rise. Last year was Hermès’s most profitable ever.

ITV’s £18m walk into The Garden

ITV has bought the independent production company behind such hit television series as  24 Hours in A&E and Inside Claridge’s. It is paying £18m cash for The Garden, the firm founded three years ago by Nick Curwin and Magnus Temple. It is the second time the duo have sold an independent production house.

Dixons to sell its Swedish division

Dixons Retail, the owner of PC World and Currys, has agreed to sell one of its Scandinavian businesses for £14.1m as part of plans to rationalise its portfolio of brands. Dixons will offload Webhallen, a Swedish retailer  of games and media products, to Komplett, a Norwegian online retailer.

Spirent issues profits warning

Spirent, a supplier of telecoms testing equipment, warned that profits for the first three months of the year would be lower than expected as major customers in all parts of the world delayed spending. Spirent said its first-quarter sales were $96.8m (£63.5m), down $20.6m.

Halliburton  opts to settle

Halliburton is in talks to settle private claims against it in a trial to decide how to allocate blame for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the US oilfield services giant said yesterday as it took a $1bn (£656m) pre-tax charge for a possible deal.

Reckitt earnings rise 7% to £2.5bn

Demand for over-the-counter products from Strepsils to Nurofen and Durex are soaring, Reckitt Benckiser said. The news helped to send the consumer goods group’s revenues for the first three months of the year up 7 per cent to £2.5bn. The chief executive, Rakesh Kapoor, said an extra-vicious flu season had driven revenue growth.

Snoozebox gives  a wake-up call

Snoozebox, the portable hotels company, warned that it would miss analysts’ expectations for 2012. The firm, based in Weybridge, Surrey, makes prefab hotel rooms that can be transported to festivals and events. It expects revenues for the year to 31 December to come in at £3.78m, below analysts’ expectations of £5m.

Caterpillar aims to get back on track

Caterpillar cut its 2013 profits forecast yesterday as it posted disappointing results amid a drop in demand for heavy equipment from its mining customers. But Doug Oberhelman, its chairman and chief executive, said the mining sector had hit bottom and production was now expected to increase.

Barclays adds new names to board

Sir David Walker, the chairman of Barclays, strengthened the non-executives on the bank’s board yesterday with two major appointments: Frits van Paasschen, the head of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Michael Ashley, the head of risk management at KPMG

Lloyds offers £350m of shares

Lloyds Banking Group issued 713 million new shares at 49.09p each yesterday – worth £350m – in an attempt to improve its balance sheet. They are being exchanged for hybrid capital securities, which carry  a higher-than-normal rate of interest. The 713 million new shares have been issued at 49.09p.

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