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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 26 February 2013

Kingspan profits buck cool market

The insulation firm Kingspan reported a 12.5 per cent jump in trading profits to €108m (£94m) despite subdued trading conditions in the UK buildings and renovations market, which accounts for 38 per cent of its sales.

BT forced to cut prices

BT faces having to cut prices for high-speed data services in the £2bn-a-year wholesale "leased lines" market under new Ofcom rules. Businesses, mobile operators and broadband providers lease capacity on BT's lines so that they can transfer data. Ofcom said the new rules will reduce the price of newer broadband technology.

Hiscox bows out on a high

Robert Hiscox, the chairman of the Lloyd's insurer which bears his name, bowed out on a high yesterday, telling investors £200m would be returned to them after Hurricane Sandy failed to blow a hole in its 2012's profits. Mr Hiscox said: "As we grow bigger and more balanced, we can absorb Mother Nature's punches."

Kuroda in prime position

Japanese equities were given a boost yesterday by reports that the monetary activist Haruhiko Kuroda will be named as the next governor of the Bank of Japan. The Nikkei 225 Average shot up 2.4 per cent after it emerged that Mr Kuroda, head of the Asian Development Bank, is in pole position to take charge of monetary policy.

Mortgages market slows says BBA

January's snow put the brakes on the growing momentum in the mortgage market after the first fall in the number of home loans since September, according to the British Bankers' Association. Lenders made 32,288 loans for home purchase, down 3.4 per cent on December. Director David Dooks blamed January's "severe weather".

Goldman set for new jobs cull

Goldman Sachs plans to begin a fresh round of job cuts as early as this week, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The cuts come at the time of year in which the Wall Street bank typically gets rid of its weakest 5 per cent of employees, but areas such as equity trading are set to be harder hit than others.

Japan to sell stake in cigarette firm

Japan is to sell about a third of its stake in Japan Tobacco, the owner of Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarette brands, to raise about £7bn for reconstruction of areas devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Ministry of Finance owns just over 50 per cent of the former state monopoly.

Royalty Pharma interest in Elan

Royalty Pharma, a US investment firm, has made a £4.4bn approach to the the Irish drug maker Elan, which is looking to sell its 50 per cent stake in the multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri. The Irish firm described the offer as "highly opportunistic" and "conditional".

Fremantle boost for RTL revenues

Britain's Got Talent and American Idol producer RTL reported a near 3 per cent jump in revenues to €6bn (£5.3bn), driven by its German TV operation and production arm Fremantle. But the former Channel 5 owner said underlying earnings fell 5 per cent to €1bn.

New operator to handle Libor rates

British Bankers' Association members have voted in favour of handing over the running of Libor rates to a new operator after the banking lobby was stripped of its oversight of the benchmark. An independent body will be selected this year.

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