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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 20 February 2013

Amplats mines shut after strikes

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has suspended production across its South African mines after workers stayed away in the wake of violent strikes at one of its mines. At least 13 workers were injured by rubber bullets and machetes at Amplats' Siphumelele shaft after clashes between rival unions on Monday.

PM in row over Japan bank boss

The appointment of a new Bank of Japan governor has been delayed by a disagreement between the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Finance Minister, Taro Aso. The two are reported to be at odds over Japan's plans to jump-start its economy, and the right BoJ candidate to carry out the plans in Asia's second-biggest economy.

Eurotunnel casts ferries adrift

Eurotunnel could be forced to sell the ferry business it bought less than a year ago from the collapsed operator SeaFrance, after the competition watchdog ruled that its purchase would mean "prices would rise" for cross-Channel passengers and freight. SeaFrance collapsed in November 2011, and Eurotunnel bought three of its ferries.

Drax feels the chill with profits dip

The coal-fired power generator Drax has reported a 10 per cent dip in full-year profits to £298m as it plans to convert to biomass fuel and higher costs take their toll. Drax is converting to biomass as rising coal prices squeeze its profits and the Government offers subsidies to lift energy generated from renewable sources to hit EU targets.

Nearly 1,000 jobs to go at Danone

Danone, the company behind Activia yogurt and Evian water, has revealed plans to cut 900 jobs across Europe. The French food giant said it needed to cut costs to offset a "significant decline" in sales. The job losses are likely to be spread over a two-year period across 26 European countries.

Brighter outlook for Germany

Germany looks to be on track to shake off its decline at the end of last year, as analyst and investor confidence in Europe's economic engine room jumped to its highest level for nearly three years in February. The ZEW think-tank's sentiment indicator soared to 48.2 from 31.5 in January, ahead of forecasts.

IHG's Park Lane hotel on the block

The InterContinental Hotel in London's Park Lane has been put up for sale with a price tag of at least £200m. Jones Lang LaSalle has been hired agent for one of the biggest single hotel sales in London recently. InterContinental Hotel Group's profits rose by 10 per cent to $614m.

Novartis ditches 'golden gag' fee

Mounting shareholder anger over executive pay in Switzerland forced the drugmaker Novartis to scrap a £50m "golden gag" it was proposing to pay its departing chairman Daniel Vasella. He was to receive the payout to keep him from sharing his inside knowledge with rivals.

Europe's car sales heading downhill

Car sales in Europe skidded to a fresh low last month, falling 8.5 per cent below the number driven off forecourts in January 2012. That's according to the Association of European Automakers, which said registrations fell to 918,280 new cars.

Rank £205m deal for Gala approved

Britain's competition regulator today gave the green light for Rank to complete its takeover of Gala Casinos. The Competition Commission said the £205m deal could go ahead provided some changes are made to the small print.

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