The Business Matrix: Tuesday 31 January 2012


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Higher air fares boost 'Chunnel'

The massive increase in the cost of flying is encouraging more Britons into the Channel Tunnel. Air fares between November and December rocketed by 41 per cent. This helped Eurotunnel, which manages the "Chunnel" and carries cars, coaches and lorries, post a 16 per cent rise in revenue to £707.5m.

RAB hedge fund chief heads off

Charles Kirwan-Taylor has quit as chief executive of RAB Capital, once one of London's best-known hedge funds, after it took itself private last year. He became chief executive in September 2010 after funds under management plummeted from $7bn (£4.46bn) to less than $1bn. Chairman Michael Alen-Buckley also becomes chief executive.

Ebook sales soar for Quercus

The publisher of the Stieg Larsson Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels, Quercus, said sales of ebooks nearly trebled in December on a year earlier. Larsson's trilogy all remained in the top 10 best sellers' list in the UK but Quercus chief executive Mark Smith said revenues from other books increased 83 per cent during the last quarter of 2011.

Foreign growth boosts SThree

Recruitment group SThree suffered a fall-off in demand at the start of the year but enjoyed a 40 per cent rise in profits for the full year. The growth came from overseas markets in its core specialism of finding jobs for IT professionals in finance, energy and healthcare . The group's business outside the UK now makes up 63 per cent of profit.

Shop Direct boss is stepping down

Mark Newton-Jones, the chief executive of Shop Direct, is stepping down after more than eight years at the helm, although he won't leave until July 2013. The home shopping group made a reduced loss of £7.8m over the 61 weeks to 30 June. It said Mr Newton-Jones had "transformed" the business.

Aviva east Europe operations sold

Aviva has sold its eastern European operations to US giant MetLife. The deal comprises savings and other assets worth €57m (£47.6m) in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Aviva chief executive Andrew Moss said the deal was part of his strategy to focus on "priority markets".

Ryanair profits by cutting flights

Ryanair was today toasting its decision to ground 80 jets over winter after flying fewer planes helped it raise its profit forecast for the second time in three months. The move by Europe's biggest budget airline helped it simultaneously to slash fuel costs while pushing up fares.

Kookai chief leads Carrefour rescue

Troubled French supermarkets group Carrefour hired a new chief executive to replace Lars Olofsson, whose three-year reign saw shares fall nearly a quarter. Georges Plassat is a former boss of the Casino supermarket group and is currently at Kookai clothes owner Vivarte.

Irish no vote 'will mean euro exit'

Ireland would have to leave the eurozone if voters in the country reject a proposed new EU fiscal treaty, its European affairs minister Lucinda Creighton said. The Irish have twice rejected EU treaty changes before accepting revised versions.

BTG treatment passes US trials

Pharmaceuticals group BTG's treatment for varicose veins has met all its goals in two US trials. The positive update for the Varisolve testing process follows a major setback in 2003 when regulators halted tests over concerns about side effects.