The Business Matrix: Tuesday 24 January 2012


EC to review bankers' pay

The European Commission is considering new curbs on bankers' pay, including a possible limit on how much top staff are paid compared with junior employees, and a fixed ratio on bonuses over salary, its regulatory chief, Michel Barnier, said. Such a move is likely to be fiercely opposed in the City even if popular with the wider public.

Bridgepoint in £175m Quilter buy

Morgan Stanley is selling its Quilter wealth management business for about £175m. The private equity firm Bridgepoint beat Permira in the bidding. It is the second time Morgan Stanley has sold Quilter. It first offloaded the business to Citigroup in 2006 but bought it back it when the two banks merged their wealth management units in 2009.

Thomas Cook shares fall 5%

Shares in Thomas Cook fell by5 per cent amid reports that its online bookings had slumped by 45 per cent in the first half of this month – one of the key periods for the travel trade. The holiday operator did not deny the report but pointed out that when it last reported in mid-December it was ahead of the industry for summer bookings.

Network Rail and South West join up

Network Rail is to work with South West Trains under a "deep alliance" to look after trains and tracks on the route out of London's Waterloo station. The move is seen by some observers as the biggest step towards integrating running tracks and trains since the two roles were split when British Rail was privatised in the 1990s.

Ophir expands in Equatorial Guinea

Ophir Energy is to increase its drilling campaign in Equatorial Guinea after securing the use of a semi-submersible rig from Ocean Rig. Ophir plans a 60-day programme beginning in April of three wells. "We look forward to spudding the first well in April," Nick Cooper, the chief executive, said.

Johnson takes in more washing

Johnson Services is paying £6m to buy Cannon Textile Care from OCS. The business, which runs five laundries, has contracts to supply garments, line, mats and towels worth £15m a year. It said it expected that it would cost a further £1.7m to integrate the new business with its existing Johnsons Apparelmaster.

UK Coal returned to profit last year

Britain's biggest miner, UK Coal, returned to profit in 2011 after hitting its 7.5 million tonne target. Its Kellingley mine in North Yorkshire beat its forecasts in the final quarter, Thoresby in Nottinghamshire was on target but Daw Mill in Warwickshire suffered disruption in December.

Oxfam's unveils its new fund

Oxfam has launched a new fund aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses in developing countries, in conjunction with asset management company Symbiotics. The aid agency wants to raise $100m after three years for its Small Enterprise Impact Investment Fund.

Cake maker passes landmark

Finsbury Foods passed the £100m-sales-in-six-months mark for the first time as first-half sales rose 16 per cent to £102m. But the birthday-cake maker cautioned that second-half growth was unlikely to be so strong.

Money Shop to open 50 stores

The Money Shop has unveiled plans to open 50 new stores in 2012, creating 330 jobs. The pawnbroker said this is shaping up to be its busiest January on record due to the rising gold price and banks' lending less to cash-strapped consumers.