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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 29 April 2014

GE chief in talks with Hollande

Jeff Immelt, General Electric chief executive, said he held a “friendly and productive” talks yesterday with the French  President, François Hollande,  to discuss the US firm’s bid for Alstom, the French energy and transport giant. On Sunday, France’s industry minister backed a rival deal between Alstom and Germany’s Siemens.

Former Barclays traders charged

The Serious Fraud Office has charged three former traders at Barclays, who were based in the US. Jay Merchant, director of dollar fixed-income swaps and two dollar interest-rate derivative traders, Alex Pabon and Ryan Reich, have been charged with conspiracy to defraud in connection with the investigation into the rigging of Libor.

Murphy Oil halts Welsh operation

Murphy Oil will halt operations at its Milford Haven refinery in Wales in mid-May after failing to find buyers for the loss-making plant, industry sources said yesterday. Talks to sell the struggling refinery, operated by the US group’s British subsidiary Murco, to a private equity firm collapsed earlier this month.

‘No need’ for Royal Mail IPO inquiry

The City regulator told MPs yesterday that there was no reason to launch an inquiry into the Government’s privatisation of Royal Mail. Martin Wheatley, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said: “An IPO that goes…to a premium, does not of itself generate a suspicion of regulatory failure.”

Investment shake up at Aberdeen

Aberdeen Asset Management has shaken up its investment division following the £660m takeover of part of Scottish Widows last month. The FTSE 100 fund manager said its alternatives unit – which invests in hedge funds, private equity and infrastructure – will now become a standalone unit.

150 KFC outlets to create 6,000 jobs

The fast food chain KFC says it plans to open 150 new outlets in the UK and Ireland over the next five years, creating as many as 6,000 jobs. The business said it will spend £21m opening 32 new stores and creating 1,300 jobs this year alone, due to increased demand  in both territories.

EE hung up on lack of new phones

Britain’s biggest mobile operator EE has blamed a lack of new phone launches as it added 123,000 new contract customers in the first quarter, its lowest number since 2011.  But EE, the owner of T-Mobile and Orange, said its 4G take-up was ahead of target, at 2.9 million users.

Parking fees give Heathrow a boost

Surging parking fees and lower bills for weather disruption helped Heathrow airport narrow its loss to £15m for the first three months of this year. That was down from a £196m loss a year ago as revenues at the world’s busiest airport rose 10.8 per cent to £576m.

Lloyds: confidence at an all-time high

Soaring business confidence set the scene for more upbeat news on the wider economy with data today poised to show a fifth successive quarter of growth. Lloyds bank’s business confidence barometer showed sentiment at an all-time high in April.

Profits rise by 19% at Lok’nStore

Lok’nStore said its like-for-like unit occupancy was up 8.1 per cent in the six months to the end of January, helping profits rise 19 per cent to £916,000. A flagship site at Maidenhead opened in December and five more are to open in the next 18 months.

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