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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 27 March 2013

Junior City staff see 21% pay drop

The most junior employees at banks are suffering the biggest impact from cuts in pay, according to a survey of UK financial services staff. Those with less than two years experience saw a 21 per cent drop in pay, reported eFinancialCareers.

Friends smiling on profit rise

Insurer Friends Life said it made good operational and financial progress in 2012, with the UK division performance especially strong after sales rose 19 per cent to £669m. Excluding one-off items, underlying profits of £337m were up 6 per cent on 2011.

L&G snaps up £131m Cofunds

Legal & General yesterday snapped up Cofunds Holdings for £131m from a consortium of City fund managers. The insurer, which has targeted bolt-on acquisitions under its new boss Nigel Wilson, said the deal will help it expand its digital business.

Wolseley takes comfort in US

Heating and plumbing giant Wolseley yesterday underlined the widening divide between a United States operation buoyed by a steadily improving economy and its struggling businesses in Europe. Chief executive Ian Meakins warned its business on the Continent faced "hard graft".

UGL mulls £77m spin-off of DTZ

Property consultant DTZ could be spun off by its Australian owner UGL little more than a year after the infrastructure firm bought it for £77.5m. UGL has hired Goldman Sachs to review the business which accounts for half its profits and will examine options including a full demerger.

Bellway leaps despite cold snap

Would-be homebuyers are braving the icy temperatures to boost the property market after a surge in sales during the past six weeks, the boss of housebuilder Bellway said. Despite average temperatures of just 3.1C this month in the "spring" selling season, Bellway's sales reservations are up 10 per cent since February.

Compass beats eurozone woes

The shakiness of the eurozone is even hitting Compass, though the FTSE 100 catering giant is still on track to make more than £1bn in profits this year. That's thanks to growth in Australia and particularly in the US, where it has won contracts at universities and hospitals. In the half-year to the end of March sales are up 5 per cent.

CBI warns of high street sales wall

A year ago department store John Lewis said it was "too hot to shop" as Britain basked in a heatwave but yesterday the CBI said the high street had effectively ground to a halt as shoppers shivered and inflation hit wallets. Retail sales stagnated during early March as six months of fading growth in volumes finally halted.

Smart move on Three's profits

Britain's fourth biggest mobile network Three claimed its "great smartphone experience" helped it to grab 900,000 new customers last year – a faster rate than bigger rivals EE, O2 and Vodafone. Profits before exceptional items jumped to £281m, with sales up 9 per cent at £1.95bn. The second year of profit followed a loss in 2010.

Johnston bonus despite a loss

Johnston Press chief operating officer Danny Cammiade earned £825,000 last year, including a cash bonus worth 125 per cent of salary, despite the newspaper publisher losing £6.7m. He leaves with a year's pay, plus bonus, on 31 March.

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Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

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Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

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Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

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Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

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Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

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Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam