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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 10 October 2012

Germany helps lift fees at Hays

It's bad, but not that bad, was Hays' verdict on the jobs market, a day after rival Michael Page warned its profits would fall almost 11 per cent. The recruiter said its net fees in the first quarter had declined only 1 per cent, with Germany driving fees growth of 16 per cent in continental Europe. In Asia-Pacific and the UK, net fees fell 9 per cent.

Strong interest in Direct Line float

Royal Bank of Scotland last night narrowed the price range on Direct Line shares to between 170p and 177.5p as stockbrokers reported strong interest in the insurer's flotation from small-time investors. RBS hopes to raise up to £975m from floating up to a third of Direct Line. At 177.5p, Direct Line would be valued at £2.7bn.

Catchphrase set to return to ITV

The TV gameshow Catchphrase is set to return after ITV commissioned a new series from STV. The show originally ran from 1986 to 2002, hosted by Roy Walker. The new series, hosted by Stephen Mulhurn, will see the return of Mr Chips the golden robot. STV has been asked to make eight shows, which will air nationally on Saturday nights.

Rebel plans for News Corp backed

The shareholder advisory group Pirc has come out in support of two rebel motions put forward for News Corporation's annual meeting. Pirc advised its members to support proposals to scrap the dual share structure which gives Rupert Murdoch's family 40 per cent of the votes with 12.4 per cent of the stock, and to split the CEO and chairman roles.

May Gurney 'back on track'

The new boss of May Gurney, the services group which supplies bin collections in London and Somerset, has tried to reassure investors that after last month's shock profit warning things are back on track. Willie MacDiarmid stepped into the breach when Philip Fellowes-Prynne left last month.

Rio Tinto cuts growth forecasts

Rio Tinto issued a downbeat assessment of the global economy, cutting its growth forecast for China and saying it was cautious about its prospects in the US and Europe. The mining giant, which makes more than 80 per cent of its profits from iron ore, is dependent on Chinese steel demand picking up.

Julius Baer buys UK unit of BoA

Staff at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch wealth management arm in the heart of the City are fearful for their jobs after the business was sold to Julius Baer. The Swiss private bank says it will cut 1,000 jobs worldwide at the business, which employs 400 in London.

Pennon buys Pulp Friction

Pennon has spent £9m buying the Kent paper processer Pulp Friction. The business processes around 100,000 tons of paper and card a year. The FTSE 100 water and waste group said Pulp would join its Viridor subsidiary. and it expected the deal to boost earnings from year one.

MEPs back jail terms for bankers

Jail terms for bankers manipulating financial markets were backed by MEPs in Brussels yesterday. Labour Euro-MP Arlene McCarthy's report calling for tougher market abuse rules was approved by the Economic and Social Affairs Committee.

Inmarsat sees boost in take-up

Inmarsat, the FTSE 250 satellite phones group, is enjoying a strong take-up of its FleetBroadband service, with more than 2,100 purchases in the last three months of the terminals used by sailors on ships and soldiers in war zones.

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