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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 25 March 2014

Manufacturing slows in China

China’s manufacturing sector contracted in the first quarter of 2014, early figures show, raising market expectations of government stimulus to stop a further loss of momentum. The weaker-than-expected data sent shares down.

Asda axes 200 posts in squeeze

Asda is to cut around 200 jobs as it forges a new five-year plan to tackle increasing competition from rival supermarkets. Head office staff in Leeds and the Leicestershire town of Lutterworth, where its clothing arm, George, is based, are affected.

Carphone-Dixons talks are still on

Carphone Warehouse and Dixons’ talks to merge have been granted an extension to 19 May by the Takeover Panel. The two high street chains began talks about a £4bn merger last month. Phones4U owner BC Partners has been tipped to launch a rival bid.

Pearson chief’s pay drops to £1.7m

Pearson chief executive John Fallon earned £1.7m during his first year in the top job, sharply down on predecessor Dame Marjorie Scardino’s £5.3m. The education giant saw earnings per share fall last year and it is on course for another slide amid a big restructuring.

Scots home group buys in Midlands

CALA Homes, the housebuilder sold by Lloyds Banking Group to Legal & General and private equity firm Patron a year ago, has made a push South with a £200m swoop for luxury builder Banner Homes. Cala is based in Edinburgh but Banner focuses on upmarket houses in the Home Counties and Midlands.

Merger lifts fund manager’s assets

Milton Group’s takeover of rival PSigma boosted assets at the AIM-listed fund manager by 73.5 per cent last year, accounts show. Although pre-tax profits fell 22 per cent to £700,000, the amount of money under Milton’s control leapt from £1.78bn to £3.1bn following the tie-up last July.

Tobacco boss’s pay soars to £6.5m

British American Tobacco chief executive Nicandro Durante landed £6.5m in pay and bonuses last year, up from £6.3m in 2012. The increase contrasted with the pay of the company’s executive directors overall, which slipped from £15m to £14.4m at the maker of Dunhill and Lucky Strike smokes.

Tech consulting firm sells to WPP

The two co-founders of London technology consulting firm Cognifide are in the money after selling a majority stake to advertising giant WPP. Miro Walker and Stuart Dean are the main owners of the firm set up in 2005 to help companies create and manage their digital marketing operations. Annual sales were £8.8m.

Microsoft’s Nokia deal delayed

Microsoft’s £4bn acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone business will be delayed until next month as there is still no approval from regulatory authorities in Asia. The deal had been expected to complete by the first quarter. US and European regulators have approved the deal, but “certain antitrust authorities in Asia” are still reviewing it.

Jaeger HQ is sold after 44 years

The London headquarters  of fashion chain Jaeger since 1970 has changed hands for £30.7m as current owner Derwent London sold it to Soho landlord Shaftesbury. The acquisition of Jaeger House at 57 Broadwick Street opens up redevelopment opportunities for the whole  of the site.

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