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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 20 March 2013


Cairn acquires interest in Senegal

Cairn Energy has signed a deal to acquire an interest in Senegal for the first time, as it broadens its reach beyond Greenland, where expensive drilling has yet to yield results. The oil explorer has narrowed its pre-tax loss on continuing operations to $194m (£128m) last year from $1.2bn in 2011. The firm made huge oil finds in India in 2004.

Sir Mike Rake is new CBI head

Sir Mike Rake, the chairman of BT, is to become president of the employers' organisation the CBI, taking over from Sir Roger Carr. Sir Mike said yesterday: "The CBI provides an objective, apolitical view on those matters which are most important from a business perspective, ensuring the economy can start to grow and create jobs."

Countrywide's £750m float tag

Countrywide, the UK's biggest estate agent, will be worth £750m when it returns to the public markets after an absence of almost six years. The shares will be priced at the top of the range – 350p – after a "very positive response" from institutional investors, chief executive Grenville Turner said. The offer will raise gross proceeds of £200m.

Cold snap hits pub sales growth

January's snow and February's cold snap halted sales growth at the pubs group Spirit. It reported yesterday that sales from licensed pubs dropped 1.1 per cent and from managed pubs by 2.7 per cent in the eight weeks to 2 March. Despite this, Spirit said it was outperforming the wider market and still expected to hit City forecasts for the year.

BAE Systems pair coin it in 2012

BAE Systems' chairman, Dick Olver, and its chief executive, Ian King, made £745,000 and £2.2m, respectively, in 2012 – a year in which the aerospace giant failed in its merger attempt with Eads and profits fell by 6 per cent. Mr King's pay, which included £963,000 salary and a £1.2m bonus, was 8.6 per cent below 2011.

TalkSport owner sees profits dip

A sharp 26 per cent rise in sales at its radio station TalkSport failed to prevent a 10 per cent slide in annual profits at UTV Media as television advertising revenues fell. The Northern Irish broadcaster yesterday posted pre-tax profits for 2012 of £21m as group revenues fell 1 per cent to £120m.

Profits halve at Johnston Press

The regional newspapers publisher Johnston Press yesterday revealed full-year profits more than halved, blaming it on lower advertising revenue. The company, which publishes the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, saw pre-tax profits drop to £12.6m in 2012, from £28.4m.

Filtrona buys Contego for £160m

Plastic products supplier Filtrona bought the pharmaceutical packaging business Contego Healthcare for £160m, financing the deal through a share placing. Contego makes everything from cardboard packaging for medicines to the printed foil over blister packs of pills.

Economy set to gain momentum

Germany's economy will likely gain momentum at a moderate pace over the coming months helped by solid private consumption and a potential pick-up in private investment, the nation's highly respected ZEW think tank has said.

Yorkshire opens new branches

Yorkshire Building Society is to continue its high street expansion plan, opening branches in Ripon and Wetherby by next month. The move takes the number of branches in the group to 230, with more openings planned this year.