The Business Matrix: Wednesday 26 October 2011

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Comedy cheer for Cineworld

The Inbetweeners movie has driven growth in third-quarter box office sales at Cineworld, the UK’s largest cinema operator. Cineworld said the film, which had the most successful opening weekend for a British comedy, had nearly matched the performance of The King's Speech, and said it was on track to hit full-year forecasts.

Polyus’s London move delayed

Polyus Gold, the Russian gold miner part-controlled by the businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, faces the prospect of a delay in its plans to move to London’s FTSE 100 after the Russian Government failed to approve the move. Polyus said the commission that evaluates foreign investment in Russia had delayed its decision on the plans.

William Hill staff settle dispute

The bookmaker, William Hill, said it has resolved a dispute with workers at its online operations in Tel Aviv and Bulgaria and parted company with seven senior managers. Ralph Topping, chief executive, had been in Israel since Friday to resolve the dispute that led to the walk-out of more than 150 staff at William Hill Online.

Strike possible at Thomas Cook

Cabin crew at Thomas Cook could vote for industrial action, following the tour group’s decision last month to reduce its fleet from 41 to 35 aircraft and cut a third of its 1,500 cabin staff. The Unite union said 475 out of 534 staff who voted in a consultative ballot favoured a walk-out over Thomas Cook’s plans to axe 498 jobs.

Serco takes ‘Boris Bikes’ further

The outsourcer Serco has picked up a £50m contract for an expansion of the “Boris Bike” hire scheme into east and west London. The extension will see 2,300 new bikes, 4,500 docking points and 200 new docking stations added to the hire scheme, which is sponsored by Barclays bank.

Novartis to slash 2,000 jobs

Novartis has announced plans to cut about 2,000 jobs over the next five years, with its Swiss and US operations bearing the brunt of the move. The measures come as Novart – which has already cut thousands of jobs – attempts to deal with growing price pressures and the strength of the Swiss franc.

Second-round bids for Rock due

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money has put in a second-round bid for Northern Rock. NBNK, the new bank venture which is also bidding for Lloyds branches, is also weighing up bidding for Rock, while the private equity firm JC Flowers declined to comment on reports it may pull out of the auction.

Bid approach boosts Greencore

Shares in Greencore jumped 10 per cent after the sandwich giant received a bid approach. Traders said a private equity buyer appeared most likely as there were no obvious trade buyers with cash. The Irish firm this year bought Uniq after being trumped in a bid for for Northern Foods by Ranjit Boparan.

Women suffer in council job cuts

Women made up two in three of all council staff who lost their jobs in the past 15 months – and in some councils made up all job cuts, according to the GMB. The union’s research found women across the South-east suffered 75.8 per cent of the cuts in the region. In 19 authorities, women made up all of the job losses.

Bosses urged to listen to their staff

Firms risk losing their best employees if they neglect workers’ job satisfaction, problems with stress or concerns over trust in bosses, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warned yesterday. Its study found nearly 50 per cent of workers who did not trust their bosses were seeking new jobs.