The Business Matrix: Wednesday 18 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Digital slowdown at Yellow Pages

The digital revolution at Yellow Pages owner Yell has suffered a setback after it reported a slowdown in online revenues growth in recent months. The group, which is battling to offset a slide in demand for printed directory advertising, also said its annual profits fell to £330m from £409m a year ago, as revenues fell 12 per cent to £1.9bn.

Seven killed during gold theft

Seven people were killed when police in Tanzania were called to deal with hundreds of intruders at African Barrick Gold’s North Mara mine. The FTSE 100-listed gold producer said 800 intruders had tried to steal gold ore from the site, and seven were killed after the police opened fire after being attacked by machetes, hammers and rocks.

Fare’s fair for Manganese

The black cab-maker Manganese Bronze expects to make money again this year after strong overseas demand more than offset a poor UK market. UK cab sales are down 5 per cent to 524 since the start of 2011, the Coventry-based firm said, but international orders have jumped to 1,300 following business from Azerbaijan.

Enterprise raises a glass to trade

Enterprise Inns, the UK’s largest pub landlord, said the hot weather and extended bank holidays had pepped up trading after a tough winter. The boost to sales comes after adverse weather over Christmas knocked revenues 7 per cent lower to £346m in the six months to 31 March. The group said its tackling its £3.1bn debt remains its priority.

Smartphone sales boost at Vodafone

A surge in demand for smartphones and better-than-expected UK growth helped Vodafone’s annual profits rise 9 per cent to £9.5bn. However, the mobile phone giant expects a lower outcome next year due to tough trading in Spain and Italy and to the absence of its French associate SFR, which it sold in April.

Co-op stashes £90m for PPI

Co-op Bank has set aside a £90m provision relating to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), which has rattled the UK banking industry. Analysts have estimated that the mis-selling fiasco could cost banks £8bn in total. Lloyds has borne the brunt with a £3.2bn provision.

Facebook twins denied a review

The twin brothers who accused Facebook and and its founder Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for the social networking website have lost their bid to have a US court void a $65m settlement of their claims. Lawyers for Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss said they would appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Buffett buys MasterCard stake

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company of the closely followed US billionaire Warren Buffett, has revealed that it bought just one new stock – a $54m stake in the credit card company MasterCard – during the first quarter, according to filings made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Habitat hires Best Buy’s Styles

Habitat, the furniture chain founded by Sir Terence Conran, has hired the former marketing director of electricals retailer Best Buy as its new chief executive. Kevin Styles said there is “huge potential” to turn Habitat, which has 71 stores in the UK, France, Germany and Spain, into a “global business”.

Wickes buys 13 Focus DIY stores

The owner of Wickes has bought 13 stores from the administrators of the stricken chain Focus DIY in a deal worth £8.4m. Travis Perkins said the sites will be converted to the Wickes format by the end of 2011, bringing the number of outlets in the chain to 216. Focus sold Wickes to Travis in 2005 for £950m.