The Business Matrix: Tuesday 31 March 2015


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Graft crackdown hits Prada profits

Prada’s profits have fallen for the first time since it listing in Hong Kong four years ago, as it was hit by a crackdown on corruption in China and anti-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Italian luxury goods group said that net income  fell to €451m (£330m) from €628m a year ago. Its sales in Asia fell by 3 per cent.

Vadera first female UK banking boss

Shriti Vadera, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, has become the first female chairman of a high-street bank, succeeding Sir Terry Burns at Santander UK. Baroness Vadera will be paid £650,000 and work alongside Santander’s new CEO, Nathan Bostock, at the bank, which is expected to seek a stock market listing within a couple of years.

Beazley signs deal with Korean Re

The Lloyd’s of London underwriter Beazley has agreed a partnership with Korean Re. The deal will also result in the creation of a new syndicate at Lloyd’s. Andrew Horton, the chief executive of Beazley, said the firm hoped it would be “able to write more business in Asia and enable Korean Re to develop a track record at Lloyd’s”.

Marshall Motor drives into Aim

The car dealership Marshall Motor Holdings is joining the Alternative Investment Market with a value of £115m. The float will raise £40m cash for expansion and leave its parent MCHL with a 62 per cent stake. Its shares will start trading on Thursday at 149p. Marshall made £13m profits last year on revenues of £1bn.

Fulham Shore grabs a pizza

The restaurateur David Page’s Fulham Shore vehicle has spent £27.5m on its latest venture, snapping up the Franco Manca pizza chain founded by Giuseppe Mascoli. Mr Page, a 30-year veteran of Pizza Express, also founded and chaired Clapham House, the owner of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Serco sells Great Southern Rail

Serco has sold Great Southern Rail to the Australian private equity firm Allegro Funds in a £2.5m deal. The disposal of the luxury business, which runs tourist trains across Australia, is part of the outsourcing group’s move to focus on core businesses under its new chief executive, Rupert Soames.

Small business lending rises

Banks offered more credit to small businesses in February, lending £600m while year-on-year lending fell at a slower pace of 1.8 per cent, the Bank of England’s figures showed yesterday. The number of home loans rose by 2 per cent to a  six-month high of 61,760.

Air China plumps for Rolls-Royce

Air China has selected Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines to power 15 new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Rolls has a strong relationship with the airline, which has 49 Trent 700-powered Airbus A330 aircraft in service, with four to be delivered.

House price rise benefits McCarthy

McCarthy and Stone said its half-year profits jumped by 76 per cent to £32m as it saw its average selling price rise 10 per cent to £226,000. The retirement housebuilder saw its completions rise 18 per cent last year to 776 units.

Odgers searches for new CBI chief

The headhunter Odgers  has been appointed to look for a successor to the CBI director-general, John Cridland, who is standing down. Mr Cridland has been at the business lobby group since he joined as a policy adviser in 1982.