The Business Matrix: Tuesday 3 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Pubs group looks for new sites

A third-quarter update from the pubs operator JD Wetherspoon will be published tomorrow after four days in which its hostelries should have been doing a roaring trade thanks to the royal wedding. It may provide an update on the company’s expansion, which has got off to a relatively slow start despite some ambitious targets.

L&G to benefit from UK focus

The debate in the savings sector just now is whether to focus on Britain or to go for higher-growth markets, especially in Asia. Legal & General, which will publish its latest numbers tomorrow, has tended towards the first option, but has made good ground in recent months.

Will drugs giant ever bounce back?

Smith & Nephew will hope that Thursday’s trading update gives the pharmaceutical company’s shares some new impetus. It has suffered in the wake of the announcement that one of its rivals, Synthes, is to be taken over by Johnson & Johnson, which had until recently been seen as a suitor for London-based S&N.

IAG needs savings to make it fly

Thursday sees the first update from International Airlines Group since the company was formed this year through the merger of British Airways and the Spanish carrier Iberia. Will progress on cost savings offset the higher costs the airlines are suffering due to the rising price of oil?

Diageo drinks to world markets

Diageo is also due to update the market on Thursday. The drinks conglomerate, which counts Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Jose Cuervo among its tipples, is thought by HSBC to have had a lacklustre quarter, with weak sales in Europe dragging down a better performance elsewhere in the world.

Interest rates likely to be held

Noon on Thursday will be a key moment for homeowners, with the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee due to announce whether or not it will be raising interest rates. Until recently, the City’s money had been on an increase in May, but economic data has been weak.

Chrysler drives back into profit

Chrysler is in profit for the first time since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. The US car-maker, posted net income of $116m in the first three months of the year. A gritty ad campaign featuring the rapper Eminem helped to boost sales in the US, and group revenues leapt 35 per cent to $13.1bn. It plans to borrow $6bn in the private market in the next few weeks to refinance government loans.

MCDC in £250m data centre deal

Matterhorn Capital, the former owner of Earl’s Court and Olympia arenas, has invested £250m in two sites in South-east England through its data centre division MCDC. The sites, in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, will house more than 180,000 sq ft of data hall space. The investment is Matterhorn’s first move into the growing data centre market. It sold Earl’s Court and Olympia to Liberty International in 2009.

Pensions’ deficit cut at top firms

The final salary pensions accounting deficit of the UK’s FTSE 350 companies stood at £41bn at the end of April, according to Aon Hewitt. UK schemes have moved much closer to fully-funded status, compared with April 2010, when the collective deficit stood at £66bn. However, many schemes are failing to adjust their risk management strategies to cope with market volatility, Aon said.

UK companies’ lack of confidence

Consumer businesses in Britain expect to improve their financial performances this year, but confidence is lower than the global average. KPMG International said 52 per cent of British firms believed their performance would improve in 2011, compared with 76 per cent of global businesses in the sector. Bosses also have a lower expectation of the level of consumer spending, said KPMG.

Eurozone climbs on rising output

Eurozone manufacturing firms had their best start to the year since 2000, according to the Markit Eurozone Purchasing Managers’ Index for April. The index climbed to 58.0, up from 57.5 in March. The euro-area PMI was boosted by output and new orders both rising slightly faster than indicated.

Saab production re-starts after loan

Saab will resume production at its Trollhattan plant in Sweden within a week after its parent company, Spyker Cars, arranged a six-month €30m (£26.7m) loan from investment fund Gemini. Spyker hopes to borrow a further €29.1m from the European Investment Bank.

Bond helicopters accepts World bid

World Helicopters has bought the emergency helicopter company Bond Aviation Group for €300m (£267m). Bond, based at Gloucestershire Airport, has a fleet of 40 helicopters and services the offshore oil and gas industry as well as providing air ambulances. The combined business will operate about 360 aircraft.

New buildings improve prices

Areas with higher rates of new development consistently record higher house price growth, a poll shows. On average over the past year, each English region saw house price growth of 0.63 per cent for every 1,000 new homes built. Over three years, the figure was 0.16 per cent.