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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 31 July 2012

Russians block BP dividend

BP's icy relationship with the four Russian oligarchs who own the other half of its TNK-BP joint venture has taken another turn for the worse after they vetoed a £637m dividend. The move by AAR's directors follows a slump in TNK-BP's second-quarter profits to $808m, from $2.2bn. BP put its stake in the venture up for sale in June.

Wheatley calls for Libor reform

Martin Wheatley, the regulator charged with picking up the pieces from the Libor scandal has called for "urgent reform" of the benchmark interest rates as the Treasury published terms of reference for a rapid inquiry into the setting of the key interest rate. He will consider using actual trading data from banks in Libor-setting.

Williamson tightens his belt

The British designer Matthew Williamson, famed for his celebrity fans including Kate Moss and Jade Jagger, has reported a narrowing of losses for 2011. Cost cutting has reduced full-year losses by 46 per cent to £142,518. Underlying profits moved into the black at £124,000, on turnover of £10.2m for 2011.

SFO ruling due in Tchenguiz case

The High Court will today rule on whether the Serious Fraud Office improperly obtained search warrants for Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, the millionaire entrepreneurs held in dawn raids by police last year. The review will also decide whether Robert Tchenguiz was wrongfully arrested. The SFO has apologised for mistakes made.

ECB gives hope to Spain and Italy

Hopes that the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, will step in to save the eurozone gave fresh relief for Italy and Spain. Optimism about aid meant Italy could tap markets for €5.5bn (£4.3bn) in five-year bonds at 5.29 per cent. Spanish yields fell from 7.5 per cent last week to 6.49 per cent.

Ladbrokes axes its online chief

Richard Ames, the Ladbrokes director responsible for IT, "has ceased to perform his executive duties with immediate effect", the bookmaker says. It warned in June that profits from its digital division would fall more than expected in the first half due to a delay in technology upgrades and a poor sportsbook margin.

Reckitt powers to £1.1bn profit

Cillit Bang, Nurofen and Durex are selling well for Reckitt Benckiser. Reckitt managed to avoid the profit warnings issued by its rival Procter & Gamble as investing in its biggest brands helped overcome economic troubles in Europe. Half-year profits rose 4 per cent to £1.1bn.

LV= sees profits motor to £62m

The general insurance business of LV= said trading profits rose by 13 per cent to £62m after it increased premium income by 6 per cent, to £747m, in the six months to 30 June. The company now has an 11 per cent share of the private car insurance market.

Halstead expects a record year

James Halstead, the commercial flooring company based in Manchester, expects a year of record revenues and profits for the period to 30 June after it continued to trade "solidly" in the face of difficult economic conditions.

Japanese swallow vinegar brands

Premier Foods, the owner of the Hovis and Mr Kipling brands, has completed the sale of its vinegar and sour pickles businesses, including the Sarson's, Hayward's and Dufrais brands, to Japan's Mizkan for £41m.

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