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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 3 April 2012

Air France signals drastic cost cuts

Air France called for increased efforts to overhaul its European passenger network yesterday and signalled the survival of its short and medium-haul operations depended on the willingness of staff to accept "drastic" cost cuts. The loss-making airline stopped short of announcing job cuts just weeks before French presidential elections.

Geldof raises his stake in Ten Alps

Bob Geldof is to increase his shareholding in the troubled media company Ten Alps by more than a third to 4.5 per cent as part of a rights issue to boost its finances. Ten Alps plans to raise £3m to reduce debt and give it extra funds. The media company, which specialises in TV production, has suffered as some clients have cut contracts.

Falklands oil firm has no more cash

Shares in the Falkland Islands-focused oil explorer Desire Petroleum fell by 3 per cent after the company conceded it had no money to drill further wells. Despite its full-year loss shrinking by more than 50 per cent, Desire's shares fell by 1p to 28.5p. The explorer said: "We do not have sufficient funds to restart a drilling campaign on our own."

Standard Life boss gets £2.5m deal

The head of Standard Life received total salary, bonuses and share awards of more than £2.5m last year, an increase of 30 per cent, even though the insurer's shares fell. David Nish got just over £2m in pay and bonuses, and also received 235,000 Standard Life shares, worth £530,000 at current prices, under a long-term plan.

Loss at Healthcare Locums narrows

The staff provider Healthcare Locums said losses narrowed in 2011, even though it was "without doubt the most challenging year" in its history. The group, which saw its shares suspended at the start of the year after accounting irregularities and later refinanced its loans with banks, posted losses of £12.9m.

Dounreay work gets under way

Decommissioning work at Dounreay nuclear power station could be completed in a decade. A consortium led by Babcock has now formally taken over the work at the Caithness site. The group says it aims to complete the process by 2022-25. It is hoped the work will cost £1bn less than previous estimates. page 7

New identity pays off for Teachers

Teachers Building Society, which was founded by the National Union of Teachers in 1966, said its profits for 2011 rose 29 per cent to £686,000. Gross mortgage lending was up 31 per cent on 2010 after investing in a new brand identity and it re-entered the broker market.

Bodycote buys US aviation firm

Bodycote has paid £32m for the heat treatment business of Curtiss-Wright, an American engineering group that traces its roots back to aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers. The UK firm treats metals for the aerospace, oil and gas and automotive industries.

GSK invests more in biotech firm

The drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to increase its stake in US biotech firm Theravance, its partner in the lung medicine Relovair. It is to pay £159m to increase its holding from 18.3 per cent to 26.8 per cent.

Co-op to raise its mortgage rate

About 54,000 customers at the Co-op Bank are facing a rise in mortgage payments after it became the latest provider raise rates. The bank will lift its standard variable mortgage rate to 4.74 per cent from 1 May, adding £15 a month to the average loan.

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