The Business Matrix: Tuesday 5 April 2011

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Alterian chief quits on profit warning

David Eldridge has quit Alterian as chief executive after the software firm issued a profit-warning. Mr Eldridge, who has headed the firm for 14 years, said he is stepping down “because I take my responsibilities seriously”. Its clients include the BBC and Ladbrokes.

Hogg to head retail for Santander

Charlotte Hogg, the daughter of the former Tory minister Douglas Hogg, is to head Santander’s UK retail distribution and intermediaries. Ms Hogg, who will be in effect in charge of Santander high street operations, replaces Alison Britton who is going to Lloyds.

Goldmans chief to join Hayward firm

Goldman Sachs’s head of UK investment banking, the oil and gas specialist Julian Metherell, is expected to leave this summer to join an investment group being by set up by the former BP chief executive Tony Hayward. Key internal candidates to replace him include Mark Sorrell, son of WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell.

Stelios’s easyGym chain shapes up

EasyJet’s founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is to launch a no-frills fitness club chain, easyGym, this summer after the venture secured its first two sites. The serial entrepreneur’s foray into the fitness sector comes after he teamed up with Fore Fitness last year. MORE

Aggreko to help power Japan

Aggreko has signed a deal with Tepco, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, to supply 200MW of gas and diesel-fired power for at least a year from June. Aggreko’s emergency power plants, to be installed in Tokyo Bay area, will help sustain the electricity supply to consumers hit by the earthquake.

Newbury races sees turnover rise

Newbury Racecourse said it narrowly reduced losses to £430,000 in 2010, after seeing a 16 per cent rise in turnover. The company said the return of the Totesport fixture in February – cancelled in 2009 due to bad weather – helped.

NatEx in dispute with US hedge fund

National Express has squared up to its second-biggest shareholder in a row over demands for a boardroom shake-up. The US hedge fund Elliott, which has been lobbying the transport giant to consider a sale or break-up, is proposing three directors at the firm’s annual meeting. NatEx called on its shareholders to reject the resolutions and said it was already looking to appoint additional non-executive directors.

Costs threaten to singe Cranswick

The pork and bacon producer Cranswick warned that said sales growth had stalled amid expectations that this year will be more demanding than usual. The company, which supplies products for the Jamie Oliver brand as well as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, said underlying sales were flat in the first three months of 2011 compared with the same period a year ago, while increasing feed costs could force its prices up.

New clients boost for YouGov

YouGov has reported a near 20 per cent jump in UK business after it gained new clients such as the retailer Argos and Penguin Books. The polling group posted a 27 per cent rise in half-year turnover to £27m and said UK growth was driven by the consumer, technology and telecoms sector. It also unveiled a further push into the US – already its biggest market – as it acquired Definitive Insights.

Minmetals offers $6.5bn for Equinox

Minmetals Resources, China's biggest metals trading firm, has offered $6.5bn (£4bn) to buy Equinox Minerals, chasing Equinox’s copper assets in Zambia and Saudi Arabia. China, which accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s demand for copper, is on a mining acquisition spree as prices for the red metal hover near record highs. Equinox is listed in Australia and Canada.

Glass firm Romag sold to Gentoo

Romag, a manufacturer of bulletproof glass and solar panels, has been sold to the property group Gentoo after it went into administration in the wake of cashflow and accounting woes. Romag suspended its shares after an inquiry into a £4m payment its ex-chairman made to a subsidy without informing the board.

Talks fuel hopes of Oddbins sale

The administrators of wine retailer Oddbins have said they are hopeful of selling the business after discussions with several interested parties. The company’s 89 stores will continue to trade while administrators from the accountancy firm Deloitte seek to sell the business, which employs 400 staff.

Fears of public sector strikes grow

More than 50 per cent of public sector employers fear rising levels of industrial action in coming months as spending cuts bite. The survey, by the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development, highlighted deteriorating employment relations in the public sector and higher expectations of industrial action than in private firms.

Inflation hits construction firms

A robust performance from the construction sector in March was overshadowed by warnings over the spiralling cost of fuel, oil and steel. The latest Markit/Cips Purchasing Managers’ Index for the construction sector – where a reading above 50 indicates growth – fell to 56.4 in March, slightly down on the month before.