The Business Matrix: Wednesday 22 June 2011

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The Independent Online

Whitbread sales growth capital-led

Whitbread hailed the “stronger” London market for quarterly sales growth at its Premier Inn chain. Underlying sales at the budget hotel rose by 3 per cent over the 13 weeks to 2 June, despite its restaurants outside the capital being hit by a “more difficult” market. Total sales at Whitbread, which also owns Costa Coffee, rose 9.2 per cent.

Arch investors offered settlement

Investors in the failed CF Arch Cru investment and diversified funds are to be offered a £54m package to settle their claims against the funds, which were suspended in March 2009 due to liquidity problems. More than 20,000 investors had put about £400m in the funds, which were invested mainly in loans and private equity.

Tesco faces new pay rebellion

Tesco is facing a fresh rebellion over “excessive” pay after the influential Pirc lobby group urged its members to vote against the retailer’s “excessive” remuneration plans. The latest scheme could see chief executive Philip Clarke pick up nearly £7m this year if the company meets all its targets. Pirc says the targets are not challenging enough.

Manufacturers plan price hikes

Manufacturers are planning the biggest push on prices since January 1989, signalling more pain for consumers. A balance of 27 per cent of manufacturers said they will raise output prices over the coming quarter, a rise on the 24 per cent figure recorded last month and above the long-term average of 1 per cent, according to a CBI survey.

Virgin Atlantic pilots to strike

Pilots at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic have voted by 97 per cent to go on strike in a row over pay, raising the threat of summer walkouts. The union said therewas a 94 per cent turnout in a ballot, called in protest at a 4 per cent pay offer, after pilots agreed to no pay increases since 2008.

Ronson buys Total forecourts

The French oil giant Total is to sell its network of service stations in the UK for £400m to Rontec, an investment consortium including Investec and Snax 24, the forecourt operator founded by Gerald Ronson. The move is part of Total’s effort to minimise its exposure to downstream oil activities in Europe.

Misys reveals possible takeover

Misys, a leading supplier of software to the banking industry, saw its market value soar 9 per cent to £1.4bn after it revealed a takeover approach. The disclosure from Misys, which employs 4,000 people worldwide, comes after weeks of speculation that has pointed to US firms Sungard and FIS Global as potential bidders.

We7 gets funding for expansion

We7, the music streaming service backed by former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel, has secured a new round of funding which will kick-start its expansion into Europe. The UK group, which competes with Spotify, said that Mr Gabriel and Eden Ventures had injected more cash and brought in new investors.

Three warns over 4G auction

The head of the mobile phone network Three has warned MPs that auctioning off Britain’s radio frequency spectrum could destabilise “fragile” competition in the UK and see his company drop out of the market. Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog, is drawing up plans to sell off the spectrum fourth-generation (4G) services.

BT and TalkTalk refused appeal

BT and TalkTalk were this week refused the right to appeal after their challenge to the Digital Economy Act was thrown out earlier this year. The two broadband providers wanted to challenge the judicial review of the Act, but High Court judge Sir Richard Buxton refused the application.

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