The Business Matrix: Wednesday 28 September 2011

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The Independent Online

Luminar hoists for-sale sign

Luminar, the UK’s biggest nightclub owner, has put itself up for sale as part of its latest attempt to secure a future for the business. However, the group, which runs Liquid, Oceana, and Lava & Ignite clubs in town centres across the UK, said that none of the indicative offers it has received for its assets would generate returns for shareholders.

M&S fined £1m over asbestos risk

Marks & Spencer has been fined £1m for breaching health and safety laws concerning the use of asbestos. Bournemouth Crown Court found the high street giant and two contractors guilty of two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act of failing to ensure the health and safety of its staff and others at its Reading Broad Street store in 2006.

Martha Stewart back after ban

Martha Stewart, the American home decorating and cooking guru, is back on the board of the company that bears her name, five years after being convicted of insider trading. Her ban on being a director expired this week. Ms Stewart, who remained creative director at her company throughout her ban, was jailed for five months.

Southern Cross transfers start

More than 250 care homes run by Southern Cross are to be transferred to new companies by this weekend as part of plans to shut down the sector’s biggest operator. Southern, which runs 752 sites and has 31,000 residents, said the homes will be transferred to about 20 new operators. The rest will be transferred by 1 November.

Johnson buys Yes Dining

Bright Futures has sold its contract catering subsidiary Yes Dining to Luke Johnson, one of the duo who floated the Pizza Express group. Bright Futures said it made the sale regretfully, but its cash position had deteriorated in September and it had been unsuccessful in attempts to raise more funds.

Albemarle profits are up again

Demand from cash-strapped consumers who have been shunned by mainstream banks has driven another year of growth at Albemarle & Bond. The pawnbroker, which has 202 shops including nearly 40 gold-buying stores, posted higher annual profits for the 20th year in a row, up 5 per cent to £21m.

Bank of America was ‘let off lightly’

Bank of America was treated too leniently in settlement talks with Freddie Mac, robbing US taxpayers of billions of dollars of compensation, according to a report for Freddie Mac’s regulator. The government-run home finance giant accepted $1.35bn in compensation for loans it bought from the banking group.

Lending rises at Close Brothers

An increase in lending to small businesses and individuals helped Close Brothers lift underlying profits by 13 per cent to £131m in the year to 31 July. Banking profits rose 34 per cent to £106m, as its loan book rose 18 per cent to £3.4bn while bad debts fell. The group also said it was on the lookout for acquisitions.

BAE Systems to close Brough

BAE Systems is cutting almost 3,000 jobs and ending production at its factory in Brough, Yorkshire, which currently employs 1,300. The defence giant, recently overtaken by the Indian conglomerate Tata as the largest manufacturer in the UK, is also cutting jobs in Lancashire and Hampshire. MORE

Felixstowe to create 1,500 jobs

A new terminal at Felixstowe, the country’s largest container port, is set to open today, creating 1,500 new jobs and boasting the capability to handle the world’s largest container ships. The expansion is part of a £1bn investment, and will create 680 jobs within the port and 820 jobs in companies related to the port.

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