The Business Matrix: Wednesday 16 March 2011

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Peacock to step down at NAB UK

Lynne Peacock is to leave National Australia Bank’s UK arm, which she has headed for seven years in July. NAB UK, which runs Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, said David Thorburn, who joined Clydesdale as a trainee in 1978, will take over as CEO.

Garfield to take helm at Openreach

Olivia Garfield is set to become one of the youngest chief executives in the country when the 35-year-old takes the helm of BT’s Openreach broadband division next month. She takes over from Steve Robertson, who has headed the unit since its launch in 2005.

Voser to pocket $7.3m at Shell

Peter Voser, the chief executive of Shell, saw his pay jump 62 per cent to $7.3m (£4.5m) last year. The rise reflected his first full year in the top job, but the majority of it came from bonus payments after the oil giant beat its targets for cash flow, project delivery and gas production and safety.

KKR names Russo as board independent

The private equity giant KKR has appointed Patricia Russo, the former chief executive of the telecoms group Alcatel-Lucent, as an independent director on its board. KKR, which was founded by Henry Kravis, Jerome Kohlberg and George Roberts, listed in New York last year.

Some comic relief for Luminar

The nightclub operator Luminar Leisure said trading has picked up in recent weeks, helped by opening Jongleurs comedy nights at venues in Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich and Cardiff. Despite the improved performance in 2011, like-for-like sales declined 18.6 per cent in the year to 26 February, after admissions fell.

G4S sees some signs of recovery

The security group G4S – the largest employer in the FTSE 100, with 625,000 staff in more than 125 countries – has reported signs of recovery in the UK and US as it reported pre-tax profits of £330m for 2010, up from £303m in 2009.

UBS subpoenaed over Libor ‘fixing’

The Swiss banking giant has admitted to received subpoenas from US and Japanese regulators over whether it made “improper attempts” to manipulate Libor rates, the benchmark price for interbank borrowing published by the British Bankers Association. In response to the bank’s revelations, made in its annual report, the BBA said Libor has a transparent calculation method which excludes rates that are outliers.

City wine bars find a buyer

Novus Leisure, the owner of the Tiger Tiger club chain, has snapped up 17 London bars from Balls Brothers and Lewis & Clarke for up to £7.85m. Novus, which owns 38 venues across London, said it aims to “broaden the appeal” of Balls Brothers wine bars, with plans for refurbishment and a menu revamp. Balls Brothers bought Lewis & Clark in 2006 for £14m, before going into administration last year.

1 in 5 live on state support only

One in five people who retire this year will be completely reliant on the state pension for their income, according to research for the insurer Prudential. The problem was acute among women, 28 per cent of whom will only have the state pension and other benefits. A quarter of people surveyed also believed they would receive at least £110 a week, compared with the £97.65 a single pensioner gets.

Council help for first-time buyers

Local authorities are to be able to help first-time buyers struggling to save a deposit get on to the property ladder. The initiative is aimed at people who could afford repayments on a 95 per cent mortgage but do not have the deposit many lenders are currently demanding. Under the scheme, local councils could provide a security worth up to 20 per cent of the property’s value.

Tullow gets green light in Uganda

Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding with Tullow Oil to let the oil explorer proceed with a $10bn project to develop oil reserves there. Tullow bought stakes in two oil licence blocks from Heritage Oil last year but a long-standing wrangle over tax on the sale had stalled Tullow's development plans.

Gem predicts a sparkling year

Gem Diamonds forecast better-than-expected 2011 results on rising diamond prices, aided by demand from China and India. The company, which has found three of the world’s 20 largest diamonds since it acquired the Letseng mine in Lesotho in 2006, said it recovered 500 diamonds greater than 10.8 carats there last year.

Last Allied Carpets stores are sold

Hilco, the retail-restructuring firm, has sold Allied Carpets to a consortium of private investors. Savana Trading has acquired 26 of the 30 stores of Allied Carpets, which was once the UK’s second biggest floor-covering chain. The firm Leonard Curtis is overseeing the closure of four stores. All parties declined to comment.

Morrisons axes key deal with MBL

Home entertainment distributor MBL Group has warned of job losses for “many” of its 320 employees after supermarket Morrisons pulled the plug on a 14-year relationship with the firm. MBL, which supplies Morrisons with CDs and DVDs, has now put itself up for sale in the hope of securing a rescue deal.