The Business Matrix: Wednesday 01 February 2012


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Santander profits hit by PPI bill

Santander — the Spanish-owned UK bank formed from former building societies Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley — saw profits plunge 40 per cent last year after it was hit by a £538m charge for mis-selling payment protection insurance. Chief executive Ana Botin said that left it with a net profit of just under £1bn.

Flood-risk homes lacking insurance

More than 200,000 British homeowners, including hundreds of Thames-side dwellers, may struggle to organise insurance when a Government agreement on flood protection ends next year, the Association of British Insurers warned. The industry made a pledge to guarantee cover to all homes, but that runs out next June.

Bloomsbury director moves on

Lord Chadlington's PR group Huntsworth abruptly parted ways with its finance director Colin Adams in a shock move after only nine months. Adams, previously finance director of books publisher Bloomsbury, quit with immediate effect.

Carpetright issues profit warning

Having issued five profit warnings in 2011, Carpetright kicked off the new year with another one. The three months to 21 January had been tough with "fragile consumer confidence producing a difficult floor coverings market". Sales in the UK fell by 4.8 per cent in the three months.

Policy bonus cuts by Standard Life

Standard Life is cutting the bonus rates paid out on some of its with-profits policies. The insurance giant blamed "unsettled market conditions" for reducing rates by up to 40 per cent. The move will affect around 750,000 policyholders.

Rising crude price boosts Exxon

Oil giant Exxon Mobil made $9.4 bn (£5.9bn) profit in the last quarter of 2011 as rising crude oil prices offset falling profit margins on chemicals, engine lubricants and fuel. Production levels actually slipped during the period in natural oil and gas. It was the weakest quarter of the year. The company's revenue rose 16 per cent to $121.61bn.

Stobart property deal hits a snag

Haulier Eddie Stobart's controversial £101m property deal with its top executives hit trouble when investor advisory group Pensions and Investment Research Consultants advised shareholders to abstain from a crucial vote on the sale next month. Stobart wants to buy properties owned by its chief executive and his brother-in-law.

Low-rate offer to lure homebuyers

Chelsea Building Society has launched Britain's cheapest-ever five-year mortgage, fixed at 3.19 per cent, in a bid to boost its share of the home lending market. The mutual, owned by Yorkshire Building Society, is offering the mortgage to homebuyers with a 30 per cent deposit plus an arrangement fee of £1,495.

Unite set to push up student rents

The UK's biggest developer of student accommodation shrugged off news of falling university applications yesterday as a chronic shortage of higher education places allows it to push up rents. Despite higher tuition fees, Unite still expects to raise rents by up to 4 per cent.

Oil deal buystime for Coryton

The endangered Coryton refinery was bought a short reprieve yesterday after its administrators, Price water house Coopers, bought it a cargo of oil to process. The Thames Estuary refinery supplies a fifth of the the South East's petrol.