The Business Matrix: Tuesday 30 October 2012


Eurotunnel deal referred by OFT

The Office of Fair Trading has referred the takeover by Eurotunnel of part of the SeaFrance ferry business to the Competition Commission. The OFT said it had concerns that the deal could substantially reduce competition in the cross-channel transport industry. Eurotunnel relaunched the business as MyFerryLink in August.

Amplats offers £144 to end strike

Anglo American's platinum unit, Amplats, is hoping to end six weeks of strife after agreeing a deal with South African unions for the return of 12,000 striking workers. Amplats, the world's biggest platinum producer, offered to rehire the miners it sacked earlier this month and give them a one-off "hardship allowance" worth £144.

Olympic effect hits Heathrow

It might have flown more canoes, shot-puts and javelins this summer, but the Olympics meant Heathrow saw 400,000 fewer passengers pass through in July and August. Numbers grew by just 0.6 per cent to 53 million in the nine months to October, compared with a 2.2 per cent increase in flyer numbers during the first half.

Direct Line axes 70 executives

Direct Line, the insurer that is being spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland, has axed 70 senior executives, including, its chief operating officer Jonathan Davidson, as it tries to save £100m a year by the end of 2014. Direct Line cut 900 jobs in September, including closing a call centre, in an attempt to reduce costs.

Loss of Friends sees F&C suffer

F&C Asset Management saw the funds it looks after drop from £98.2bn to £96.8bn in three months, but it was due to the expected withdrawal of business by Friends Life. Friends had given notice that it was taking out £5.1bn of fixed-interest funds and withdrew £2.9bn of them in the third quarter.

GSK in tie-up with Japanese firm

GlaxoSmithKline has beefed up its interest in an HIV drug which analysts reckon will be blockbuster. A new deal with Shionogi sees GSK give the Japanese drug maker a 10 per cent stake in Viiv Healthcare – an joint venture between GSK and Pfizer – in exchange for its rights to dolutegravir.

Three suspended in rigging probe

UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland have suspended at least three more traders in Singapore as regulators investigate alleged Libor-rigging. Bloomberg reported at least two foreign exchange dealers have been suspended by UBS, while RBS put a director on its forex desk on leave.

Serco saddles up for Aegon deal

Serco, the outsourcer that runs the Boris Bikes scheme in London, has signed its first deal to run back-office work in the pensions industry, with a £170m, 10-year tie-up with Aegon. It will take on some customer services and look after some of the firm's zombie pension funds.

Pain in Spain as retail sales slump

Spanish retail sales fell at their fastest pace on record in September as already battered consumer confidence took another hit from a hike in value added tax. Sales fell 10.9 per cent year on year, the 27th monthly decline in a row.

Profits dip at Lok'nStore

The storage provider Lok'nStore reported a slight fall in pre-tax profit to £926,000 in the year to 31 July. However, the group said the 1 per cent drop was largely driven by the firm refinancing its £40m bank facility during the year.