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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 28 March 2012

Compass warns of slowdown

Compass, the group that caters for office workers, schools and soldiers, as well as events such as Wimbledon, has warned that challenging economic conditions in Britain and parts of Europe would lead to slowing organic-sales growth in the first half compared with a year ago. The group said revenue is expected to grow by 8.5 per cent.

BP sells North Sea gas assets

BP has agreed the sale of its gas assets in the southern part of the North Sea to the independent energy group, Perrenco, for £400m. BP has plans to sell assets totalling £38bn by the end of 2013 and yesterday's deal takes the total already achieved to over £28bn. The sale will also allow BP to focus on the the northern area of the North Sea.

Metro wins US embassy work

Metro Bank has won the pitch to become the US embassy in London's official bank, processing its transactions in the UK. Metro has been expanding in the capital since its 2010 launch. It now has 11 branches and will open its next in Chiswick in May. It plans 200 branches, mainly in London and the South-east, by 2020.

Babcock gains from outsourcing

Babcock International said the trading environment for the last year had been positive and it hoped to build on its success in the coming year. The engineering support services company said customers facing financial constraints had looked to outsource to achieve cost-savings.

High street sales stabilise

Retail sales stabilised in March, but stores' expectations of future growth fell. The CBI distributive trades survey showed that the sales balance rose from -2 in February, to zero. Analysts had expected a negative figure.

Bumi ousts Nat Rothschild

The millionaire financier Nat Rothschild has been ousted as co-chairman of Bumi, one of the world's largest thermal coal exporters. Mr Rothschild fell out with the Bakrie family, his Indonesian partners in the mining enterprise, last November. The new chairman is the Indonesian coal entrepreneur Samin Tan.

Mack the knife joins 'barbarians'

John Mack, the former chief executive of Morgan Stanley, is joining Kohlberg Kravis Roberts as a senior adviser to the private equity firm. Mr Mack, known as "the knife" after his cost cuts, was earlier the co-chief executive of Credit Suisse Group. KKR found fame in Barbarians at the Gate, for its role in the takeover of RJR Nabisco.

Luxury market boost for HR Owen

The luxury motor retailer HR Owen boasted strong demand for its new cars, such as Ferraris and Bentleys, last year but suffered a fall in sales of used cars. This contributed to an 8 per cent fall in annual profits to £1.83m. Its revenues rose 25 per cent to £192m, helped by the purchase of Broughtons of Cheltenham.

Copper-bottomed year for Kaz

The FTSE 100-listed copper miner Kazakhmys saw underlying profits rise to £1bn last year, up from £996m in 2010 as revenues rose to £2.2bn. The miner said it saw no signs of a downturn in demand and its copper output this year should be similar to 2011's.

Asda takes record market share

Asda has achieved its highest-ever share of the grocery market. The Kantar Worldpanel data also showed that Tesco, boosted by a recent blitz of coupons, is showing signs of recovery, following a sustainedperiod of under performance.

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