The Business Matrix: Tuesday 4 September 2012


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The Independent Online

Manufacturing decline continues

Speculation that Beijing will look to ward off a slowdown for the world's second-biggest economy with further interest-rate cuts gathered pace yesterday after HSBC's August survey of manufacturing activity slipped to 47.6 – a 10th month of decline. Another official Chinese survey also saw manufacturing activity falling to 49.2.

A million want to work more hours

A million more part-time workers want to work more hours than four years ago, new figures show. According to the TUC, the number of "under-employed workers" has increased by 42 per cent since 2008 to 3.3m. TUC leader Brendan Barber said young people, low-skilled workers and women were "bearing the brunt".

Campari toasts rum acquisition

The Italian drinks maker Campari is buying Jamaican rum maker Lascelles DeMercado to boost its presence in growing American markets, as sales in recession-hit Italy lose fizz. Campari, which also owns Glen Grant whisky, is buying an 81.4 per cent stake from the state-owned conglomerate CL Financial, valuing the target at £261m.

Vodafone makes long-distance call

Vodafone has expanded its presence in the Middle East with a major partnership with the regional operator Zain Group. The mobile giant said the deal should boost its reach in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq. The company said the deal would "complement" its own existing operations in Egypt and Qatar.

Lochard Energy up for sale

Six months after a boardroom coup headed by its largest investor, Henderson, the North Sea oil explorer Lochard Energy has put itself up for sale.

The AIM-listed company's major asset is a 10 per cent stake in the Athena field which currently produces up to 11,000 barrels of oil a day.

Staffline wins new contracts

Blue-collar recruiter Staffline announced that it had won several good new contracts in the first half of the year, but many of its existing clients had used fewer staff. The group, whose revenues grew 36 per cent to £164m, said the second half offered challenges and opportunities yet it should meet full-year forecasts.

Nine firms to seek £98m rail contract

Nine international companies or groups plan to bid for a contract that could be worth as much as £98m to design and consult on the construction of Oman's first major railway. Bidders include Mott MacDonald of the UK, Denmark's Cowi and a China Railway company.

Knightsbridge homes fetch £3.8m

Knightsbridge is London's strongest property performer with the best homes changing hands for an average £3.83m last month, according to Knight Frank. Prices have jumped 3.6 per cent in the past three months and 15.8 per cent during the past year.

Headlam swoops for Flooring

The floor coverings distributor Headlam has acquired Cardiff-based Flooring Accessories, which supplies residential and commercial products principally in south Wales. Flooring's revenues for the year to 31 July were £2.2m.

Hyundai's sales stall after strikes

Hyundai Motor's sales fell for the first time in more than three years in August, hurt by a slew of partial strikes at South Korean factories that hit domestic sales. Workers staged the strikes as annual wage talks stalled over pay and a new shift scheme.