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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 8 March 2011

Sir John Bond to chair Xstrata

Sir John Bond the outgoing chairman of Vodafone, is set to take over from Willy Strothotte, the long-standing chairman of Xstrata, in May. Mr Strothotte also chairs Glencore, which owns about 35 per cent of Xstrata, and is eyeing an initial public offering.

Lord Sugar takes helm at YouView

Alan Sugar has been named chairman of the internet TV venture YouView, replacing the former Ofcom director Kip Meek after just eight months. Lord Sugar’s appointment comes shortly after news that YouView will not now be launched before next year.

Last Stobart steps down from board

William Stobart son of the eponymous founder of Eddie Stobart, is leaving the haulier’s main board to concentrate on its core transport and logistics divisions. Mr Stobart, who is the chief operating officer, was the only Stobart family member on the main board.

Agnew to leave Beazley in 2012

Jonathan Agnew the former head of the investment bank Kleinwort Benson, is to step down as chairman of Beazley. The specialist insurer, which abandoned a bid for rival Hardy last year, said Mr Agnew would not seek re-election at the 2012 annual meeting.

Kuoni to buy Gullivers Travel

The Swiss tour operator Kuoni is to buy Gullivers Travel Associates for $720m (£442m) from Travelport. The UK group GTA offers tour operators and travel agents about 35,000 hotels in 130 countries, as well as transfers and sightseeing tours at destinations. The deal will strengthen Kuoni’s business-to-business services.

Warning over crude oil prices

Brent crude oil prices could hit $200 a barrel if political unrest spreads into Saudi Arabia, warns Société Générale. US oil hit a two and-a-half-year high above $105, but later eased after the US said it could tap its strategic reserves.

Trafigura traders quit UK for Geneva

The international commodities trader Trafigura will move its London trading operations to Geneva as part of a wider plan to unite its European trading teams under the same roof in Switzerland, industry sources have told the Reuters news agency. The sources said lower tax rates and the advantages of a single European base were the chief reasons for moving. Trafigura declined to comment.

Women ‘could add £42bn to economy’

Ministers are being urged to do more to encourage female entrepreneurship after a report coinciding with International Women’s Day showed that businesses owned by women make up fewer than one in three self-employed organisations. The Federation of Small Businesses said that if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be 600,000 more businesses, adding £42bn to the economy.

Falling sales mean ‘time’ for more pubs

Falling beer sales and rising rents are set to lead to a new round of pub closures, according to the GMB union. It said sales had “fallen off a cliff” last year, made worse by the increase in VAT, and claimed pubs were being priced out of the market. Beer sales in pubs last year fell by 5.9 per cent, compared with a 0.28 per cent fall at supermarkets, said a report commissioned by the GMB.

Employers want tribunals reformed

Most employers believe the law on unfair dismissals should be changed, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found. Mike Emmott, of the CIPD, said: “The employment tribunal system itself is broken and its costs and benefits are wholly out of line. The Government needs to take a radical look at the existing machinery for protecting employment rights.”

Latin America and Asia boost Page

The white collar recruitment firm Michael Page said annual profits jumped to £101m from £21.1m after strong growth in Latin America and Asia. The UK business contributed 28 per cent of the company’s gross profits in 2010 after revenues grew by 10.2 per cent to £303m and profits rose 12.7 per cent to £125m.

Financial sector looking to hire

The public sector is facing its worst jobs outlook since the early 1990s, when Britain was deep in recession, according to Manpower. But its research found that the gloomy news from the public sector was offset by brighter hiring intentions at private firms, with finance, banking and business services predicting new jobs.

Skype to roll out advertising

The internet telephony group Skype is to introduce ads in the UK, Germany and UK this week in an attempt to boost revenues ahead of a planned stock market listing. The company also revealed that its revenues last year rose by 20 per cent to $860m as the number of users paying for services jumped by 19 per cent.

Western Digital to buy Hitachi unit

Western Digital Corp, the world’s second-largest maker of computer hard drives, is to buy Hitachi’s hard disk drive operations for about $4.3bn in cash and stock. The US company will pay $3.5bn in cash and $750m in stock for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. The deal will give Hitachi a 10 per cent stake in Western Digital.

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