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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 24 July 2013

Swatch clocks up rise in profits

Swatch, the world's biggest watchmaker, cheered investors yesterday with a first-half rise in profits despite a crackdown in China on traditional gift giving. While rivals were dented by the new rules on giving luxury gifts to party officials and business chiefs, Swatch saw a 6 per cent rise in profits to Sfr768m (£534m).

Telefonica to snap up KPN's E-Plus

Dutch telecoms group KPN will sell its German unit to Telefonica for €8.1bn (£7bn) in cash and shares, in a long-awaited deal that will test antitrust regulators' views in Europe's largest mobile market. If KPN's disposal of E-Plus passes muster, the new company would hold a share of about 30 per cent of Germany's mobile-service revenue.

Drilling setback in French Guiana

Hopes French Guiana has commercial oil reserves like those of Ghana suffered a blow as a well off the Latin American country's coast came in dry for Tullow Oil and Shell. Tullow's production in Ghana has helped to finance exploration across Africa and tempted it to look at French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana.

Travelzest chief Carroll loses job

Struggling holidays business Travelzest yesterday axed its chief executive – without saying why. "Jonathan Carroll's contract has been terminated. Mr Carroll will cease to act as chief executive officer with immediate effect," the firm, which used to sell nudist holidays, said.

Shaftesbury in expansion hitch

Carnaby Street and Chinatown landlord Shaftesbury is struggling to find new properties to add to its portfolio of 500 shops and restaurants in London's flourishing West End with owners "reluctant to sell". "We remain patient," Shaftesbury said.

Cussons plays royal name game

Cussons announced yesterday that it is launching a royal baby-themed prize competition to promote its new cosmetics label, which includes soaps, shampoos and creams for pregnant women, babies and toddlers, in the hope of cashing in on the hoped-for boom in baby purchases in the wake of the new royal boy.

Swisscom chief is found dead

Swisscom chief executive Carsten Schloter was found dead at his home yesterday morning in a suspected case of suicide, police said. An investigation into the exact circumstances of his death is under way and out of consideration for the family no further details are being disclosed, Swisscom said in a statement.

Premier Foods profits up 50%

The recovery of Premier Foods continued yesterday, as it announced half-year profits had soared 50 per cent after it slashed its supplier base as part of its drive to save costs. The owner of Ambrosia rice pudding boasted this would see full-year earnings at the top end of City expectations, at about £140m.

Carpetright floored by sun

Carpetright suffered a "double-digit" decline in underlying sales during the recent three-week heatwave, as shoppers enjoyed themselves in the sun. The retail chain said its like-for-like sales has been up by nearly 3 per cent in May and June but were then floored by the balmy weather.

Ryanair offers Aer Lingus stake

Ryanair said it was prepared to sell its 29 per cent stake in rival Aer Lingus to any other European airline which managed to take control of the Irish flag carrier. The announcement came as yet another salvo across the bows of the Competition Commission.

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