The Business Matrix: Wednesday 15 February 2012


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The Independent Online

US economy bounces back

Americans rebounded from a weak holiday season and stepped up spending on retail goods in January, an encouraging sign for the strengthening economy. Retail sales rose at a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent last month, as consumers spent more on electronics, home and garden supplies, sporting goods and at restaurants and bars.

Digital directories put Yell in a spin

Yell shares plunged 17 per cent yesterday after a worse-than-expected slump in revenues. The Yellow Pages publisher blamed the "deteriorating macro-environment and a more competitive digital directories market" for the 15 per cent dive in sales to £383m in the final quarter of 2011. Print revenues are still falling faster than digital sales grow.

Hampson sell-off to ease £55m debt

Hampson Industries hoisted a for-sale flag yesterday, nearly three months after the aero engineer announced it was considering strategic options for two units, BHW Components and its Indian operations. Hampson has £55m debts, more than double its current market capitalisation, and has been working to refinance its bank facilities.

Japan in £650m deal for Talaris

Carlyle is set to almost double its money by selling the UK cash systems and automatic teller machines business Talaris to a Japanese rival in a deal worth £650m. The US private equity firm bought the business from the banknote printer De La Rue for £360m in 2008. The buyer, Glory, is Japan's largest maker of money-handling machines.

Rolls-Royce lands £133m Fiji contract

The aero-engines maker Rolls-Royce has bagged a $210m (£133m) contract from Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific. It will supply Trent 700 engines to power three Airbus A330 aircraft in its first deal with the airline. Rolls also opened a $557m facility at the Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore.

Aurora to sell its stake in Bastyan

The retail group Aurora Fashions has appointed advisers to sell its stake in the luxury womenswear label Bastyan after just two years. Aurora, which operates the Oasis, Coast and Warehouse chains, has hired the accountancy firm BDO to find new investors for Bastyan to drive its rapid wholesale expansion.

Direct Line name change for RBS

Royal Bank of Scotland's insurance division is to change its name to Direct Line Group as part of plans to find a buyer. RBS is required to sell business, which also includes Churchill and Green Flag brands, by the end of 2014 in return for its £45bn taxpayer bailout in 2008.

SocGen traders win bonus appeal

A Paris tribunal has awarded two Société Générale traders €180,000 for unfair dismissal in 2009 after they complained about unpaid bonuses. The case is believed to have centred on a trade that generated $1bn in profits for steel maker ArcelorMittal but went unrewarded.

Water unit keeps Pennon on stream

Pennon, the owner of South West Water, said profits at its waste recycling firm Viridor would be lower than last year because of falling raw materials prices. But its water unit's strong performance leaves it on-track to meet full-year expectations.

Cupid to operate new dating firms

The online dating firm Cupid is to take over running the Friends Reunited dating website under a licensing agreement with the social network's owner, Dundee-based Brightsolid. The deal will also see Cupid run the Friends Over Fifty and Swoon sites.