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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 14 August 2013

Factory output jumps in Europe

Europe toasted a rise in factory output in June, reinforcing hopes the Eurozone may have exited recession in the second quarter. Industrial production grew by 0.7 per cent from the previous month, according to Eurostat. The uplift was powered by a 4.9 per cent surge in the production of durable consumer goods.

Australian banks target Lloyds

At least five big Australian banks have emerged as  potential buyers of Lloyds’ major operations in the country with a price tag of at least A$1bn (£590m). Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ,  Commonwealth Bank and  Macquarie have expressed interest in Lloyds’ asset finance and commercial lending units.

Blogger’s surprise loss in China

Sina Corp, which runs China’s biggest micro-blogging site, suffered a surprise loss in the second quarter as it seeks to strengthen its mobile offering. The firm posted a net loss of $11.5m (£7.4m), following a  profit of $33.2m a year earlier. Sina’s micro-blogging service has more than 500m users, with numbers growing rapidly.

Europe drags down Synthomer

Paint chemicals firm Synthomer yesterday admitted weak demand from Europe had hit first-half profits. The company, formerly known as Yule Catto, said pre-tax profits had fallen to £48.6m from £54.2m in the same period in 2012, a drop  of more than 10 per cent.  Underlying sales fell 7.5 per cent to £558.3m.

Move to block US airline merger

The US justice department has launched an anti-trust lawsuit to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. The $11bn (£7bn) deal, which would form the world’s largest airline, was backed by a federal judge in March. The case argues it would “substantially lessen competition”.

Facebook signs up translation firm

Facebook is buying a company that makes a speech recognition and translation app to rival Apple’s Siri feature on iPhone and Google’s voice search. The social network is acquiring Pittsburgh-based Mobile  Technologies, which is behind Jibbigo, an app recognising more than 25 languages.

Mugabe vows to deliver reform

The Zimbawean president Robert Mugabe has reaffirmed his commitment to forcing all companies to cede economic control to black people in the country. This policy of “indigenisation” was at the heart of his campaign in last month’s election, which he controversially won.

Nicole Farhi had debts of £20m

The premium fashion brand Nicole Farhi collapsed last month with debts of nearly £20m, according to its administrator’s report. Nicole Farhi fell into administration owing £15.7m to owner Kelso Place Asset Management, and £2.9m to unsecured creditors.

Director exits from JC Penney

William Ackman, the  hedge-fund manager, has stepped down from the board of the US department store  JC Penney, drawing a line  under discord among directors that threatened to hinder its turnaround.

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