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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 30 November 2011


Prada profits boosted by Asia

Italian fashion house Prada has sounded a confident note about the rest of the year as it posted a 75 per cent rise in profits over the past quarter. The designer, which raised $2.5bn in June by listing its shares in Hong Kong, was helped by sales in Asia, its main market. Prada is also looking at opening stores in economies such as Brazil.

Diamonds lose sparkle for BHP

BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, is considering selling all or part of its diamond assets, which include the Ekati mine in Canada. Diamonds represent only a fraction of BHP's global portfolio, and the diversified miner said it wanted to focus on areas where it could expand. A review is expected to be completed by the end of January.

WPP buys stake in app maker Lumi

The advertising giant WPP has taken a minority stake in Lumi Technologies, which creates apps that can be used on any mobile device. WPP also said it has agreed to buy US-based public relations firm Glover Park, which is headquartered in Washington, DC with offices in Los Angeles and Boulder.

Diabetes drug gets EU permission

Brussels has given AstraZeneca permission to sell its type-2 diabetes drug Komboglyze across the European Union. The drug, launched in the US in January, was developed as part of a joint venture with its US rival Bristol-Myers Squibb. Nearly 53 million people are affected by type 2 diabetics across Europe.

US boost for SkyePharma

Shares in SkyePharma jumped 9 per cent after the drugs group revealed US regulators are considering its Lodotra treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment uses SkyePharma's technology to provide a delayed-release formulation of low-dose prednisone – a drug already used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Balfour Beatty staff back action

Workers employed by the building giant Balfour Beatty have voted four to one in favour of strikes in a protracted row over union claims that long-standing agreements were being terminated and craft workers' jobs being "de-skilled". Unite also said it would ballot workers at other construction companies involved in the dispute.

Xia-Xia crabs look to pinch Xmas lists

Character is to launch a toy crab which has taken the US by storm in the UK in time for Christmas. The toy distributor hopes Xia-Xia, pronounced Sha-Sha and developed by the creators of ZhuZhu Pets, will help to prop up sales. The Bob the Builder toy group also posted an 11 per cent rise in annual sales to £95m as profits hit £9m.

Quintain back in the black

The property developer Quintain has moved back into the black in its first half-year but warned an improvement in its markets is unlikely in coming months. It made interim profits of £3.7m, compared with losses of £59m a year ago, when it took substantial write-downs on the value of its properties.

RBS to make 440 more staff jobless

Royal Bank of Scotland is to close its site in Bristol and make another 440 staff cuts from its customer support operations. The bank, which is more than 80 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said the cuts were part of 3,000 job losses announced last year. The union Unite urged the bank to reconsider the closure.

Saab GB goes into administration

The UK distribution arm of the car company Saab has gone into administration, threatening more than 100 jobs. Saab GB has exclusive rights to distribute Saab cars and parts in the UK. It employs 55 people in Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire. The parent company is continuing talks with potential investors.

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