The Business Matrix: Wednesday 24 October 2012


Spanish economy still shrinking

Spain's economy shrank for the fifth quarter in a row between July and September as the nation struggled to hold off a full-blown bailout. Output shrank 0.4 per cent – similar to the second quarter – with unemployment above 25 per cent and a banking system close to collapse due to bad property loans.

Experian expands Brazil holding

The credit-checking giant, Experian, displayed its appetite for fast-growing Latin American markets yesterday, spending $1.5bn (£938.5m) to buy the 29.6 per cent of the Brazilian credit bureau, Serasa, that it does not already own. Experian bought its original 70 per cent stake five years ago for only $1.2bn.

Nationwide cuts rates again

Nationwide is cutting rates across the majority of its fixed rate mortgages by up to 0.20 per cent and tracker rate mortgages by up to 0.10 per cent from today. This is the second rate reduction announced by the building society in the past fortnight. Overall, some fixed rates have fallen by up to 0.5 per cent.

Hovis set to be sliced off and sold

One of Britain's biggest bread brands, Hovis, looks increasingly likely to be sold after its owner, Premier Foods, said it is looking at a range of options to unlock value. While Hovis is one of Premier's eight core brands, the bread sector has become increasingly competitive.

Laird revenues rise to £133m

Laird, the one-time shipbuilder turned tech company, posted a 10 per cent rise in revenues to £133m in the third quarter, boosted by double-digit growth in September. The group makes devices for tablet computers, phones, TVs and game consoles.

Premier's extra £2m from Games

Whitbread's Premier Inns earned an extra £2m from the Olympics as the hotel chain pegged prices, chief executive Andy Harrison said yesterday. Prices were capped at £199 a room. "Some of our competitors were charging £400 a room, but we didn't want to leave customers with a bad taste in their mouth," Mr Harrison said.

Magners owner gets foothold in US

The Magners cider maker C&C is to buy America's biggest domestic cider group, Vermont Hard Cider, for $305m (£190m) after a summer which saw UK and Irish sales hit by bad weather. "The summer just hasn't happened in terms of barbecues and parties," finance director Kenny Neison said. UK cider sales fell by 18.6 per cent.

EDF boss gives nuclear warning

EDF Energy's chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, has warned that the Government needs to decide how much financial support to give nuclear power so that potential investors like him could decide whether to go ahead with projects such as building a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Olympic trade boosts Eurotunnel

Horses competing in the Olympic Games, plus teams from Uzbekistan, France and Sweden, all travelled to London by Eurotunnel in the third quarter, helping revenues rise 13 per cent to £225m. Revenues in the year so far are up by 14 per cent on a year ago, to €748m.

Orders raise Arm to a one-year high

Shares in Arm, the computer chip designer which supplies Samsung and Apple's smartphones and tablets, hit their highest level since last November as the FTSE 100 company said it had record orders and a "robust" pipeline of business.