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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 25 February 2014

Profits take off after Stansted sale

Selling Stansted for £1.5bn, plus stronger demand for flights to Europe, China and India, helped turn Heathrow’s £33m loss in 2012 to a £426m profit last year. Passenger numbers at Heathrow rose 3.4 per cent to a record 72.3 million passengers in 2013. Boss Colin Matthews said the airport had more passengers from Asia and Latin America.

Essar directors reject Ruias’ bid

The independent directors of London-listed Indian oil refiner Essar Energy “unanimously” rejected the controlling billionaire Ruia family’s controversial lowball bid to buy back the rest of the firm. The Ruias’ Essar Global vehicle has bid just 70p a share, less than four years after the company was listed at 420p a share.

Grandee investors enjoy big payday

Henry Kravis and George Roberts, the founders of the private equity firm KKR, got $161.4m (£97m) and $165.5m respectively in pay and dividends in 2013, 17 per cent more than in 2012. KKR was made famous outside Wall Street by its depiction in the bestseller Barbarians at  the Gate, which was also made into a film.

Microsoft cuts price on console

Microsoft, whose new Xbox One console is reportedly being outsold two-to-one by Sony’s PlayStation 4, is cutting its prices just over three months after its release.The console will drop from £429 to £399 on Friday, including the Titanfall game in the price, bringing it closer into line with the PS4, which sells for £349 without a game.

Drink-driving ban hits beer sales

Colombia’s drink-driving crackdown, including jail sentences up to 18 years, is taking a toll on London-listed brewer SABMiller. The tougher rules, which SABMiller supports following a series of major accidents before Christmas, led to lower than  expected sales in December and January of its Bavaria brand.

Bright conditions boost Bunzl stock

Bunzl shares rose yesterday after the packaging group said brighter economic conditions helped profits jump 17 per cent to £372.2m last year. Strong growth came from North America, where revenues surged 15 per cent, but the group is expanding internationally and spent £295 million on 11 acquisitions in 2013.

Hiscox boss calls Flood Re ‘unfair’

Plans to overhaul the way insurance is provided for flood-prone homes are “unfair and unworkable”, the boss of Lloyd’s of London insurer Hiscox warned yesterday. The company said the Flood Re proposals will end up discriminating against homeowners across the country.

Sir Ian calls for oversight of oil

Sir Ian Wood – one of the founding fathers of the North Sea oil industry – has called for the creation of a tough new regulator to ensure companies extract as much oil and gas as possible from the fields. He said it should be paid for by the companies themselves.

Bovis shrugs off risk of rate rises

Bovis Homes shrugged off the prospect of interest rate rises from the Bank of England yesterday as chief executive David Ritchie set out plans to double the size of the business. The housebuilder is looking to build up to 5,000 homes annually in the years ahead.

O2 boss ‘amazed’ by WhatsApp deal

The boss of British mobile giant O2 has said he is “amazed” at Facebook’s decision to pay $19bn (£11.4bn) for WhatsApp. At the Mobile World Congress, Ronan Dunne pointed out his company had been offering unlimited text messages for several years.

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