The Business Matrix: Wednesday 1 May 2013


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Unilever heads for a £3.4bn India deal

Consumer goods giant Unilever has made a €4bn (£3.4bn) long-term bet on soaring growth in India, unveiling plans to raise its stake in its Indian subsidiary. The maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream already owns 52.5 per cent of Hindustan Unilever, India's largest maker of consumables, but it plans to up its stake to 75 per cent at a cost of €4.1bn.

UBS benefits from 10,000 job cuts

Swiss bank UBS has surprised investors with a higher-than-expected rise in profits as a restructuring that will see 10,000 jobs go begins to take effect. "It's too early to declare victory, but it's good to see we're gaining momentum," said chief executive Sergio Ermotti. "We have shown our business model works in practice."

Asos boss faces five-times bonus

The online fashion retailer Asos revealed a bumper new incentive plan yesterday as it posted another sharp rise in half-year profits. Under the new three-year incentive scheme chief executive Nick Robertson could be in line for shares worth up to five times his £350,000 salary. Profits at Asos rose 19 per cent to £25.7m over six months to February.

Spain's economy shrinks by 0.5%

Spain's beleaguered economy is still gasping for air, declining for a seventh quarter in a row between January and March. The country, struggling with record unemployment of 26.7 per cent, saw its economy shrink another 0.5 per cent as it suffered the effects of a burst property bubble and austerity measures under Mariano Rajoy's government.

RBS faces US fines of up to $14m

American regulators have hit RBS subsidiaries with sanctions of nearly $14m. RBS Citizens was fined $5m and ordered to compensate more than 250,000 customers with $2.5m, while Citizens' Banks of Pennsylvania was fined $5m for similar violations and told to pay $1.4m to more than 75,000 customers.

Apple looks to bonds market

Fresh from announcing a $100bn (£64bn) cash return for shareholders, Apple came to the bond market for the first time yesterday to mount potentially the biggest US debt sale ever. It has enough cash to cover the return but most of it is in non-US accounts. It is said to be planning to issue $15bn in dollar bonds.

Stagecoach stands and delivers

Commuters forced to swallow season-ticket increases helped boost revenues at Stagecoach, which reported a 5.4 per cent sales jump from its South West Trains division in the year to April. Sales at Virgin Rail, which Stagecoach owns alongside Virgin, rose 3.1 per cent.

Piglets offset bull sperm slump

Growing demand for piglets from Asia offset a fall in sales of bull sperm, animal breeding group Genus said yesterday. The British-based firm said sales are in line and profits just 1 per cent down on last year's record in the first nine months of its financial year.

Harvey Nash sees profits decline

Strong demand for developers of software for smartphones and tablets could not stop the recruiter Harvey Nash posting a 7 per cent decline in pre-tax profit to £7.9m for the year to February. Revenues in the UK and Ireland rose 21 per cent to £210.4m.

Imperial hit as smokers cut back

Imperial Tobacco's first-half profits fell by 6.5 per cent to £1.4bn as smokers switched to roll-your-own. The change was most stark in Spain where sales of cigarettes fell by 12 per cent but sales of cut tobacco soared by 60 per cent.