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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 19 September 2012


Galliford Try turns to water

A £22bn spending spree to upgrade the UK's ageing waterpipes and infrastructure is set to help builder Galliford Try weather cuts in construction, the firm said yesterday. Water companies are a major customer of Galliford, which predicts spending under the current five-year investment drive should peak next year.

Gordon Brothers acquires Clerys

Clerys, the landmark Dublin department store, has been acquired out of receivership by Gordon Brothers, saving nearly 150 jobs. Gordon Brothers, a global restructuring firm, is understood to have bought Clerys for about €15m (£12m), including its debts, from joint receivers at the accountancy firm Grant Thornton.

Microsoft invests in east London

Microsoft yesterday became the latest US computing giant to invest in east London's technology hub as its social-networking subsidiary, Yammer, opened a major new office.

Yammer, which provides social networks for corporate clients, has also set up a developer centre – its first outside its San Francisco headquarters.

BHP puts pay of execs on ice

BHP Billiton will freeze the base pay of its top executives this year, as the miner cuts costs in the wake of a hefty writedown in the value of its US shale gas business. Six weeks after saying the chief executive Marius Kloppers would forgo his bonus for the year to 30 June, 2012, BHP said his base pay would be frozen this year.

Leni Gas posts widening losses

Shares in Leni Gas dropped nearly 15 per cent as the oil and gas explorer posted increasing losses amid a wide-ranging restructuring. Leni Gas, which is refocusing its operations on Trinidad, reported a 20 per cent rise in its first-half loss to £971,000 despite revenues rising 16 per cent to £1.7m.

£500k injection for health webcam

New technology that could revolutionise the way doctors measure patients' vital signs has attracted a £500,000 investment from the intellectual property firm IP Group. The device, which uses a webcam and software, allows medical staff to measure heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation.

Capital's lawyers face a crackdown

London's lawyers face a £3m tax crackdown after HM Revenue & Customs said the profession would be the subject of a blitz by inspectors in the capital over the next two months.

Evaders face a potential fine of up to 100 per cent of the unpaid tax.

Hibu asks lenders to relax debt tests

Hibu, the recently renamed owner of Yellow Pages, has asked lenders to relax its bank loan covenants "to avoid a possible breach" at the end of this month. Hibu wants to postpone the covenant test, which is based on the ratio between profits and debt, until November.

G4S secures Vanguarda deal

G4S has bought the Brazilian firm Vanguarda, which provides security and monitoring services to sectors such as banking and public services, for an undisclosed sum. G4S recently faced criticism over its handling of the London 2012 Olympics.

Opus hit with fine for mis-reporting

Opus Energy, an independent supplier to businesses, has been fined £125,000 by Ofgem for mis-reporting the amount of energy it supplied under the Government's Renewables Obligation, which incentivises companies to use green energy.