The Business Matrix: Wednesday 4 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Rich rewards for food bosses

A trio of senior bosses at Premier Foods, one of whom's leading brands is Hovis, left with a total of £1.4m in extra payments last year, following a management shake-up of the struggling business. The former chief executive Robert Schofield, left with £419,205 in "other" payments on top of his £466,780 salary, the company's annual report showed.

Cluff strikes back in oil business

The septuagenarian resources veteran and one-time owner of The Spectator Algy Cluff is returning to his roots, with plans for a new oil explorer. Mr Cluff, who made his fortune with Cluff Oil in the 1970s, plans to list a cash shell on the AIM in the next few months, and said he will look at opportunities in Africa and the North Sea.

Rogers quits Costa for Tragus

Costa Coffee is to get a new managing director after the head of the coffee shops chain quit to join Tragus, the debt-laden company behind the Café Rouge and Bella Italia restaurants. Chris Rogers, the group finance director of Whitbread, is to take the helm at Costa in August. Costa has had more than 40 consecutive quarters of sales growth.

Weak high street hits Wincanton

Wincanton, one of Europe's biggest hauliers and logistics groups, has warned its businesses will be hit this year as shoppers shun the high streets, meaning shops are not restocking. Wincanton shares fell more than 12 per cent yesterday after the company admitted it was suffering from empty warehouses.

Rothschild profits from oil sale

Lord Rothschild has struck gold again selling a North Sea oil company for nearly three times the amount he invested in it just over two years ago. Cairn Energy is paying $450m (£282m) in cash and shares for Agora Oil & Gas, in a deal it describes as a major step forward in rebalancing its portfolio.

Construction shows expansion

Builders boomed in March after a surprise surge in new orders, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said yesterday. Cips' activity index – where a score over 50 signals growth – registered 56.7 in March, the highest level for nearly two years. Construction accounts for 7 per cent of the economy.

Canopius makes move for Omega

Canopius has approached rival insurer Omega with a £156m takeover offer. The cash bid of 65p a share follows two earlier offers from Canopius and came the day after Haverford, a Bermuda-based vehicle, started talks to buy a quarter of Omega at up to 83p a share.

Gulfsands looks to expand

Gulfsands Petroleum, the Syria-focused oil explorer, said it was looking for a "fast-track" opportunity to build another non-Syrian business unit, following the cessation of production due to the unrest in the region. Gulfsands managed a 23 per cent jump in profits to $55.1m (£34.5m) in 2011.

Typhoon deal approved

BAE Systems has finally signed a contract to build 48 Typhoon aircraft in Britain for the Saudi Arabian air force, but the price of the deal had yet to be agreed. BAE had expected changes to the terms of the deal to be signed off in 2011.

Huntsworth takes legal action

Huntsworth, the public-relations group that owns the Citigate, Red and Grayling agencies, has set aside £1m to sue some former staff who have allegedly broken "non-compete" rules. Annual profits halved to £10.6m after the firm lost £4m of project work in 2011.