The Business Matrix: Wednesday 2 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Rowley appointed HMV chairman

Philip Rowley who was appointed as a director of HMV three years ago, is to become chairman of the struggling music store chain. Mr Rowley, a former chief executive of AOL Europe and who has also worked for EMI, replaces Robert Swannell. MORE

Bernanke warns of oil ‘threat’ to US

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, told Congress he saw recent oil price rises as only a temporary cause of inflation, but warned that “sustained rises in oil and other commodities would be a threat both to economic growth and to overall price stability”.

Another strike ballot at British Airways

British Airways cabin crew are to cast their fourth vote in the past two years on whether to hold a strike after the Unite union began balloting them in the long-running dispute with the airline. If the ballot backs another round of industrial action, the earliest strike would be in April. The airline said it hoped the union would settle the dispute.

SEC files charges in Galleon scandal

A former Goldman Sachs director, Rajat Gupta, faces insider trading charges in the US amid accusations from the Securities and Exchange Commission that he tipped off the founder of hedge fund Galleon Group about the bank’s earnings.

King warns of lost living standards

Britain has suffered a drop in living standards that may never be recovered as a result of the financial crisis, the Governor of the Bank of England has warned. Mervyn King also signalled he did not yet feel ready to raise interest rates, dismissing calls for a small increase in order to address rising inflation expectations. MORE

Insurers hit with gender pricing ban

Insurers will have to rethink the way they price products ranging from car insurance to annuities following a European Court of Justice ruling they may not take policholders’ gender into account in charges. MORE

Rolls-Royce shows electric Phantom

Luxury car-maker Rolls-Royce has unveiled a fully electric version of its Phantom saloon. The model is a one-off prototype on display at the Geneva motor show, but chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos said he hoped the electric Phantom would help change attitudes. “We can’t use 12- cylinder engines for ever,” he said.

Petrol prices rise to record high

The price of unleaded petrol has hit a new record, averaging 130p per litre, Experian Catalist, the industry analyst, said. It warned that the price of petrol is now up by 6p a litre since the end of 2010, with higher VAT and fuel duty adding to the inflationary impact of the oil price spike caused by tensions in the Middle East.

Broadband deals not up to speed

Ofcom, the telecoms industry regulator, has accused many of Britain’s biggest broadband providers of failing to deliver an internet service at anywhere near the speeds advertised – and paid for by customers. Ofcom, which conducts a survey of broadband speeds annually, said standards were actually getting worse and called on advertising watchdogs to take action against companies that misled customers. MORE

Discount grocers stage a comeback

Aldi and Lidl, the discount supermarkets, are the big winners in the latest survey of grocers’ market share from Kantar, the industry analyst. It said that both had increased sales by almost 14 per cent over the past three months, twice the rate achieved by the big grocers, adding to speculation that cash-strapped consumers are seeking to save cash wherever they can. MORE

Karen Millen set to go up for sale

Aurora Fashions, the British retail group, in which Iceland’s failed Kaupthing Bank holds a majority stake, has unveiled plans to split off its Karen Millen business. Retail analysts said the move was likely to be the first step in a process that will eventually see the sale of Aurora’s largest and most profitable business.

Administration for Clinton’s Irish unit

Clinton Cards has put the Irish end of its Birthdays chain into administration. The Essex-based cards and gifts retailer said it was taking action because all 14 stores currently trading as Birthdays in the Republic of Ireland were loss making. None of its Clinton Cards or Birthdays stores in the UK are affected by the decision.