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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 24 September 2013

Delta and Virgin merger takes off

The US Department of Transportation yesterday approved the merger between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Craig Kreeger, Virgin’s chief executive, said: “Our partnership with Delta means we will be able to offer convenient aligned schedules and a much broader network giving the best possible travel choices.”

Germany credited for strong month

The financial-data provider Markit’s latest snapshot of manufacturing and services firms showed more evidence of the German economic machine driving the strongest month for Europe’s private sector since June 2011. Germany saw new business grow at the fastest rate for two years, while French activity also rose marginally.

Nine million new iPhones are sold

Apple sold nine million of its new iPhone 5S and 5C devices over the weekend, the tech giant announced, in what chief executive Tim Cook called the “best iPhone launch yet.” Apple now expects fourth-quarter  revenues to be near the top  of the previously predicted range of between $37bn (£23bn) and $34bn.

Booth buys Icon film company

Icon Film Distribution (IFD), the distributor behind hits such as Paranormal Activity, has been acquired by media investor Jerome Booth’s New Sparta for an undisclosed sum. The sale of IFD, whose forthcoming titles include Postman Pat: The Movie, leaves Icon UK focused on film finance and production. Mr Booth also owns ExaroNews.

Huge surge in profits at Globo

Employees using their own phones and tablets at work have helped profits to soar at mobile-software firm Globo, with its chief executive declaring “the BlackBerry days are gone”. The AIM-listed Globo said pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 June were up 74 per cent at €14.4m (£12.1m).

College Group £4m down in 2012

The public-relations group which owns top City outfit College Hill made a £4m loss last year as it splashed out on acquisitions and increased debt. College Group Topco said turnover was roughly flat at £38.4m, the first full year since private-equity firm Vitruvian Partners bought half the business.

Finsbury weighs up potential buys

The cakes and bread maker Finsbury Foods is eyeing potential acquisitions following the successful sale of its Free From range earlier this year for £21m. The sale means the company’s debt has fallen 78 per cent to £7.4m, allowing it to resume paying a dividend.

Christmas orders down at Park

The Christmas hampers and voucher group Park said it had yet to feel the impact from rising consumer confidence. The Birkenhead-based group told shareholders at its annual meeting that UK orders for Christmas were running 2 per cent lower, but balances were higher.

Mixed fortunes for Dairy Crest

Dairy Crest, the maker of Cathedral City and Clover, reported good cheese sales in the six months to the end of September, but said the butters and spreads market has been tough amid rising costs. The group continues to cut costs.

Stobart sells property for £25m

The haulage and logistics group Stobart has sold its investment property at a retail park in Eastbourne for £25m. The group said it booked a £2.1m gain on the sale of the Admiral Retail Park property to Clerical Medical Managed Funds.

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