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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 25 January 2012

Mick can't find any satisfaction

Sir Mick Jagger is to cut short his visit to the annual World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos after complaining of being used as a political football. The Rolling Stones frontman has pulled out of an afternoon tea party at the Alpine event that is designed to promote Britain, which will be hosted by the Prime Minister David Cameron.

NS&I tries to deter new savers

National Savings & Investments will cut a key savings rate today after a number of large deposits sent the Government-backed institution crashing through its financing target. NS&I expects to exceed its Government set target of up to £4bn, so to moder- ate deposits it will cut the rate paid on its Direct Saver account by 0.25 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

Pre-paid revenue fall hits Carphone

Carphone Warehouse said its revenues from pre-paid mobile phones had tumbed, hitting its third-quarter underlying sales by nearly 5 per cent. Sales were affected by a lack of smartphones in the pre-pay market, and cash-strapped shoppers switching to longer contracts.

Red Devils selling £170m London HQ

Manchester United Football Club are selling their London base for £170m. Stratton House in Piccadilly is being offered by the West End of London Property Unit Trust – a fund managed by Schroders. Strutt & Parker and DTZ are understood to be jointly handling the sale.

Co-op to cut jobs at head office

The Co-operative Group's food business is to cut more jobs at its Manchester head office next month after warning of a financial hit from "some of its toughest trading conditions in recent history". Following a review of the UK's fifth-largest grocer, seven senior managers are leaving, including Kay Wheelton, head of commercial trading.

Mecom charges for online titles

Mecom, the London-listed European newspapers group, will start charging for its top 10 online titles on all platforms, including the Apple iPad. Its new chief executive, Tom Toumazis, will also "review" all of the debt-laden group's free newspapers and could close those which do not "support paid operations or deliver high margins".

Sage software says trading is in line

Sage, the accounting software house, said it was "watchful" of how Europe's economy could affect its small and medium-sized customers. It said trading in the first four months of its financial year was satisfactory and in line with full-year expectations, but the macro-economic environment was still "challenging".

Profits warning sees Cussons dive

Shares in Imperial Leather-to-Sanctuary toiletries maker PZ Cussons fell by 4.82 per cent yesterday after the beleaguered company said profits for the year would be at the lower end of City forecasts. First-half sales rose 10 per cent to £414m but profits fell 13 per cent to £40.2m. The shares fell 15p to 296p.

Zetar sees egg on its face at Easter

Easter egg sales may be lower than last year, the confectioner Zetar said yesterday. The chief executive, Ian Blackburn, said: "Easter is still more than two months away but initial signs are that own-label orders are 5 per cent to 10 per cent below 2011."

Chemring faces order delays

Shares in Chemring crashed after the defence contractor, which makes ejector seats and bomb-detection kit, admitted it was facing order cutbacks and delays. In the year to November, Chemring's pre-tax profit grew by 6 per cent to £125.6m.

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