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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 21 August 2013

Cineworld must sell three venues

Cineworld has been told to sell three of its venues to appease concerns over its £4m takeover of the arthouse chain Picturehouse. The Competition Commission said the deal could lead to a “substantial lessening” of choice in three areas: Aberdeen, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge. The regulator said local competition affects ticket prices.

Mackenzie bets £2bn on fertiliser

Andrew Mackenzie’s first big bet as BHP Billiton’s new chief executive is on the need for more food as the global population booms, with a £2bn investment in a Canadian potash fertiliser producer. The deal came as he unveiled a poor set of full-year figures yesterday, with profit down nearly 30 per cent at £6.9bn as sales fell nearly 9 per cent.

Blackstone to pocket £600m

Blackstone, the US private equity firm, is set to make hundreds of millions on the sale of its 50 per cent stake in Broadgate, the office complex home to some 30,000 City workers. The sale, to a sovereign wealth fund, has reportedly gone through for £1.7bn – up from the original £1.07bn Blackstone paid four years ago.

Persimmon to start 85 new sites

Persimmon is set to open another 85 sites this year, to match soaring demand from new buyers. The housebuilder,   which reported a 40 per cent rise in six monthly profits to £135m  on higher selling prices from bigger homes and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, already has 390 active sites. and plans a “swift start” on new schemes.

Capita to run MoJ tagging system

Capita has landed a six-year £400m deal from the Ministry of Justice to run the world’s biggest electronic tagging system for offenders. The system will use the latest GPS technology to monitor wearers’ curfews and locations, the company said. Around 1,000 staff will transfer to Capita next year.

Cold weather hits Lindt’s sweet spot

Cold, wet weather helped profits at the Swiss chocolate maker Lindt jump 40 per cent in the first half of the year  as sales rose 9 per cent to £970m. The group behind gold bunnies and Lindor balls said it is now expanding into Russia, China and South Africa, as well as launching new range of chocolate bars.

John Wood sinks to bottom of FTSE

John Wood sank to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after cutting the profit outlook at its engineering unit. Its shares fell 8 per cent, even though the Aberdeen-based group, which provides support services for the oil and gas industry, posted half yearly profits of £119m.

Menzies is hit by magazine closures

The closure of magazines such as More! and Auto Trader was blamed for pushing interim profit at John Menzies, the media distribution and airport services business, down three per cent to £24m. Its aviation business saw profits up 10 per cent to £16m.

More put aside to cover PPI payouts

Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks have set aside more money to cover past misdemeanours such as payment protection insurance mis-selling. The lenders, owned by National Australia Bank, did not say how much redress provisions have risen by.

Royal London profits rise 19%

Royal London, the UK’s largest mutual life and pensions company whose brands include Scottish Life said half-year profits rose 19 per cent to £113m. The company recently acquired the Co-op’s life, pensions and asset management arm.

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