The Business Matrix: Wednesday 24 August 2011

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Cairn Energy targets Lebanon

Cairn Energy is set to bid for drilling rights off the coast of Lebanon in an area experts believe could hold one of the world’s richest gas deposits. The oil and gas explorer, which yesterday reported a 134 per cent rise in production in the first half of this year, also said that it plans to expand its exploration programme off Greenland.

Switzerland’s UBS to cut 3,500 jobs

Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS is to axe 3,500 jobs to save Sfr2bn (£1.5bn) a year as it joins rival investment banks in reversing the post-crisis hiring binge and preparing for a tough few years ahead. UBS, which has been battling with rising regulatory costs and the soaring Swiss franc, said half the cuts would be in investment banking.

UK Coal posts first profit in four years

UK Coal has posted its first profit in four years after higher production and coal prices sparked a turnaround at its collieries. The group, a major supplier to Britain’s coal-fired power stations, swung from a loss of £93m a year ago to a £22m profit in the first half of the year. About 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity is supplied by coal-fired plants.

Rich hold out against panic

Memories of the panic that engulfed the world after the collapse of Lehmans have hardened rich investors, who have held their nerve and resisted the impulse to dash for cash during August’s market falls, say private bankers. The bankers say, in sharp contrast to 2008, that most are sticking to their investments and even buying assets.

DMGT sells US events business

The owner of the Daily Mail has agreed to sell its US events business, George Little Management, to Providence Equity Partners for £106m. Daily Mail and General Trust announced it was considering strategic alternatives for the business in June. The transaction is expected to be completed in late September.

Goldman predicts $86 per barrel

Analysts at Goldman Sachs have predicted oil prices could fall to $86 a barrel in London next year as production from Libya comes back on line. The price of the London benchmark Brent crude yesterday ended up nearly a dollar at $109.31 a barrel as violence continued in Tripoli.

France’s rich want to pay more tax

Sixteen of France’s richest people, including the heiress of L’Oréal and the head of oil major Total, want to pay higher taxes. “[When] a worsening state debt threatens the future of France and Europe... it seems necessary for us to contribute,” the petition published by Le Nouvel Observateur, said.

Spain to bring back wealth tax

Spain is looking at re-instating a wealth tax ahead of general elections as part of a drive to improve national accounts. The tax, a form of inheritance tax dropped in 2008, brought €2.1bn (£1.8bn) to government coffers in 2007 but was abandoned as part of efforts to stimulate the economy.

Persimmon posts surge in profits

Britain’s largest house-builder has reported a 52 per cent surge in first-half profits to £60m, helped by tight cost controls. Persimmon said it expected the housing market to remain stable but warned that it would continue to be challenging due to the overall economic situation in the country.

Vacancy rates hit Segro’s profits

Segro has reported a 57 per cent fall in half-yearly profits to £65m as the vacancy rates at its industrial estates continued to recover slowly. Segro said net rental income was down by 6 per cent at £136m. Its vacancy rate at the end of June was 11 per cent, down from 14 per cent a year earlier.