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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 12 February 2014

Babcock firms up armoured cars bid

Babcock International has confirmed it is in the running to buy the Ministry of Defence unit which services and upgrades the army’s armoured vehicles. The Defence Support Group is valued at up to £300m and has been integral to Britain’s operations in Afghanistan, quickly fixing damaged equipment at Camp Bastion.

Ofcom renews four TV licences

The regulator Ofcom has renewed licences for Channel 5, ITV, STV and UTV for another 10 years from the start of 2015. The terms of the new licences were not made public but ITV was expected to be permitted to reduce local news coverage. STV will also be allowed to extend its banking facilities from the end of 2014 to March 2016.

Kazakhs devalue currency by 19%

Kazakhstan has devalued its currency, the tenge, by 19 per cent to about 185 per dollar, adjusting it to the freer float of its main trading partner, Russia. The tenge was undermined by Russia letting the rouble slide amid a broader retreat from emerging-market currencies sparked by the US scaling back of monetary stimulus.

HMRC warning to music industry

The music business is to face a tax inquiry over unpaid internships. Ahead of next week’s Brit Awards, HM Revenue and Customs warned firms about the consequences of using unpaid junior staff. It fined more than 800 employers last year and recovered £4m in underpaid wages for some  26,000 workers.

Danish outsourcer plans £5bn offer

ISS, the Danish outsourcer chaired by ex-ITV boss Charles Allen, is to unveil plans for a £5bn float next week. The firm, with 530,000 staff, abandoned IPO attempts in 2007 and 2010 amid market turbulence after a merger with G4S collapsed in 2011. Goldman Sachs and UBS are leading the flotation.

New Look aims to attract more men

New Look wants more men in its stores, the private equity-owned retailer said yesterday. It currently makes 4 per cent of sales from menswear, compared with 20 to 30 per cent at rivals such as Topshop. Strong online sales helped its revenues to rise 5.6 per cent to £1.2bn in the last quarter of 2013.

Mitie wins £180m  immigration bid

Mitie has won an eight-year, £180m Home Office contract to manage and maintain Colnbrook and Harmondsworth immigration removal centres at Heathrow. A potential three-year extension could make it worth £250m in total. The contract begins in September.

McBride half-year profits fall 10.5%

McBride, which makes own-brand products for retailers ranging from shampoos to washing tablets, said adjusted profits fell by 10.5 per cent in the six months to December. It was driven by a decline in UK performance, where revenues fell 11.5 per cent to £133m. reflecting prolonged branded promotional activity from retailers, said the group, which is based in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

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Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

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The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
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Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

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The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

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The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

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Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

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Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
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Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

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Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players