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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 27 April 2011

Vekselberg not ruling out BP sale

Viktor Vekselberg, one of the shareholders in AAR, the joint owner of TNKBP, BP’s troubled Russian venture, has said that while he was “upset” with BP, he would consider selling his stake at the right price. “Of course it can happen,” he told the BBC.

Moulton linked to All Saints deal

Jon Moulton, the private- equity veteran who now runs Better Capital, has emerged as a possible buyer of All Saints, the troubled retailer. It was put up for sale earlier this year and is at risk of sliding into administration if a takeover deal is not agreed.

Bernanke prepares to face critics

Sliding US house prices form the backdrop to the first press conference by a Federal Reserve chairman. Ben Bernanke, stung by criticism of the Fed’s quantitative easing scheme, will spend 45 minutes today fielding questions on its monetary policy.

Draghi is now hot favourite for ECB

Mario Draghi, left, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, has won the public backing of Nicolas Sarkozy as successor to Jean-Claude Trichet as President of the European Central Bank. Mr Draghi now looks certain to replace Mr Trichet, who is due to quit in October.

Beer sales fall back again

Beer sales fell 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, the British Beer & Pub Association said. Sales in both pubs and offlicences slowed at the same rate, though the pub decline represents the sector’s smallest first-quarter fall since 2005 and compares to an 8.8 per cent drop last year.

YouTube eyes move into rentals

YouTube is set to launch a video on- demand service, streaming films for viewers to rent, reports Hollywood blog The Wrap. Google owned YouTube, which has 130 million users, could launch the service within two weeks.

Sentance warns Bank on inflation

The Bank of England no longer fully understands what is happening in the UK economy and may already have lost its credibility in the battle against inflation, a senior policymaker warned. Andrew Sentance, who sits on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, has been a persistent critic of the failure to raise interest rates despite the fact that inflation is now 2 percentage points above the target rate of 2 per cent. MORE

Barrick Gold closes inonEquinox

Barrick Gold looks set to acquire the copper mining company Equinox for $C7.3bn (£4.7bn) after Minmetals Resources of China, which has also been keen to buy the business, said yesterday it would not raise its previous $C6.3bn offer. The deal would see the world’s biggest goldminer acquire its first pure copper assets and double its exposure to the booming industrial metal.

Uniqback in the black in 2010

Uniq, the supplier of sandwiches and desserts to Marks & Spencer, made an operating profit of £4.1m last year. The food manufacturer last month cleared its £400m pension deficit by handing a 90 per cent stake in the company to its pension trustee, which is seeking to realise value by selling all or part of the shareholding.

Lactalis targets Parmalat for £3bn

The French dairy group Lactalis has launched a €3.4bn (£3bn) bid to acquire Parmalat, its Italian rival, to create the world’s biggest dairy operator. Lactalis, which already owns 29 per cent of Parmalat, has offered €2.60 for each share to create a business which would have combined annual revenues of €14bn.

Pearson clinches Schoolnet deal

Pearson, the owner of books publisher Penguin and the Financial Times newspaper, has increased its exposure to the education market with the $200m purchase of Schoolnet, the American technology company. Pearson has made a string of purchases in its education business in recent years, particularly in North America, but also in developing markets. However, it insists it has no plans to sell the FT.

Towry books £7.5m loss on deal costs

Financial adviser Towry has posted a loss of £7.5m for 2010, following the exceptional costs it incurred during the integration of rival Edward Jones. Towry said it incurred £17.7m in exceptional costs in 2010, £15.1m of which related to Edward Jones. But it added that the costs were mitigated by the £12.9m profit it recorded from the acquired company in October 2009.

Saudi Arabia fears over high oil price

Khalid al-Falih, the chief executive of Saudi Arabian state oil group Aramco, said the company was “not comfortable” with the current price of oil. “I am concerned about the impact it could have on the global economy,” he said. Upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East have sent oil prices to three-year highs.

Heritage launches share buy-back

Exploration and production company Heritage Oil has announced the launch of a share buy-back programme worth up to $100m. The group said it had begun buying back its stock because it believed the shares were trading “at a significant discount to the intrinsic, underlying value of the company”.

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