The Business Matrix: Wednesday 12 March 2014


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Foxtons benefits from capital boom

The estate agent Foxtons benefited from a booming London market to boost 2013 profits by 57 per cent to £39m, prompting a special dividend of 3.74p alongside a final dividend of 1.7p. This netted £1.2m for its chief executive, Michael Brown, who also made £50m from selling half of his stake in the business in its flotation last autumn.

Banks must get tough over losses

Eurozone banks must take a tougher view on potential losses and asset values under new European Central Bank rules. The ECB, which takes over supervision of the area's largest 128 banks from November, set out the stance it will take. Each bank faces 1,250 credit file checks by national supervisers and auditors before the autumn.

FCA to review payday lenders

Payday lenders are facing a new inquiry to see how sympathetic they are when customers struggle to pay back their debts, the City regulator has announced. The Financial Conduct Authority said the review will be one of its first actions when it takes over supervision of the consumer credit market.

Supermarket sweep for Aldi

The discount grocers continued to challenge the major supermarkets, with Aldi's annual growth hitting 33.5 per cent in the latest quarter, giving it 4.3 per cent of the market, according to the analyst Kantar Worldpanel. Among supermarkets, Sainsbury's was the only retailer to hold its market share year on year at 17 per cent.

UniCredit posts record losses

Italy's largest bank UniCredit has posted a record €14bn (£12bn) loss due to huge writedowns on bad loans as it moved to clean up its balance sheet. The bank is also looking to create an "internal bad bank" to manage another €87bn of risky loans and is cutting 8,500 jobs, or 6 per cent of its workforce.

Esure cautious as profits edge up

Esure has warned that home and motor insurance markets will remain "highly competitive" this year as it posted a 2.5 per cent rise in full-year profits to £118m. It also strengthened its combined ratio to 89.7 per cent last year, meaning it took in more in premiums that it paid out in claims.

CME to open London exchange

The US futures market operator CME has secure regulatory approval for a London-based derivatives exchange. The operator of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans to launch the exchange on 27 April, trading biodiesel and foreign exchange futures.

SAC changes name to Point72

Steve Cohen's hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, which pleaded guilty to insider trading, is changing its name to Point72 Asset Management as it shifts its focus to managing his own assets. The name comes from its address at 72 Cummings Point Road, Stamford, Connecticut.

Lloyds caps pension rises

Lloyds Banking Group is to cap the pensions of about 35,000 employees in a move that will boost income by £1bn. It has already closed its final salary scheme to new staff but those already in it had been receiving 2 per cent annual increases.

Zurich to axe 800 employees

Zurich Insurance Group has announced plans for up to 800 job cuts worldwide as part of a drive for cost savings of £150m by the end of 2015. The company which employs about 55,000, said customer-facing activities will not be affected.