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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 29 November 2011


US shoppers go on £7bn spree

American consumers went on an $11.4bn (£7bn) spending binge on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that marks the start of the holiday shopping season, and retailers reported the bonanza continued yesterday on so-called Cyber Monday, when e-commerce sites offer their own discounts and deals.

Facebook admits Merck mistake

Facebook has admitted it made a mistake in letting the US drug group Merck & Co take over a page on its website from its German rival Merck KGaA. The move prompted Merck KGaA to turn to a New York court to force Facebook to explain how it lost its page to Merck & Co, which has been a separate company since the First World War.

Judge rejects Citi settlement deal

Citigroup will face a trial over allegations that it defrauded investors in a $1bn (£640m) mortgage derivative deal in the lead-up to the credit crisis. The bank had agreed with Wall Street regulators to pay $285m (£183m) to settle the charges without admitting wrongdoing, but US Judge Jed Rakoff has angrily rejected the agreement.

TM Lewin plans overseas boost

The officewear retailer TM Lewin reported a slowdown in the UK yesterday but revealed ambitious plans to double sales by expanding overseas. The company, which recently opened its 100th store in the UK, selling shirts and ties, said its half-yearly UK sales were up 7 per cent, while international sales rose26 per cent.

Dramatic fall in global air freight

Global air freight traffic was 4.8 per cent lower in October than a year ago, according to the aviation trade group Iata. It said: "Since mid-year the market has shrunk almost 5 per cent and this is far greater than the 1 per cent fall in world trade. Air freight is among the first sectors to suffer when businesses' confidence declines."

Unilever staff vote for strike action

Workers at the consumer goods giant Unilever have voted to strike in protest at plans to close their final salary pension scheme. The GMB union said its members based at the company's sites in Warrington, Cheshire and Norwich in Norfolk backed industrial action by three to one.

Weston bought by Senior for £54m

Senior has bought the privately owned Weston Group, which makes precision machined parts and assemblies for the aerospace industry, for £54m. Weston, located in Lancashire and with facilities in Thailand, counts Rolls-Royce, Spirit Aerosystems and Contour Aerospace among its largest clients.

Laird chief retires due to ill health

The wireless components designer Laird said its chief executive Peter Hill has stepped down due to ill health. Its chairman, Nigel Keen, will take over running the company until a replacement is found. The company said it remained confident of hitting medium-term targets.

KKR grabs lifeline in $1.1bn CSG deal

The private equity group KKR is buying Capital Safety Group (CSG), a manufacturer of safety equipment such as harnesses to protect against falls, for $1.12bn (£721m). The business is being brought from Arle Capital Partners, the former buyout arm of Candover. Candover decided to wind itself up last year.

BHP Billiton FD retires

The mining giant BHP Billiton announced the surprise retirement of its popular chief financial officer, Alex Vanselow, yesterday. Mr Vanselow, 49, is quitting in February 2012 to pursue personal business interests and will be replaced by Australian Graham Kerr, who is just 40 years old.

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