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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 4 December 2013

World's largest vessel launched

Shell has launched the hull of the world's largest vessel, the 488m-long (1,600ft) Prelude. The floating liquid natural gas ship will eventually be moored off Australia, where it will process LNG from the Prelude field for the next 25 years. If it is a success, gas fields too far out to sea to develop in other ways could become commercially viable.

Vodafone recruits former Bupa chief

Vodafone has recruited Val Gooding, the former chief executive of the healthcare giant Bupa, as a non-executive director, making her the third woman on the 13-strong board. Ms Gooding was a non-executive at the BBC from 2008 to 2011. She also used to be a non-executive at CWC, Sainsbury's and Standard Chartered bank.

Iraq plans huge rise in oil output

Iraq plans to lift oil output by more than a million barrels a day to more than four million in 2014, in what would be the biggest increase since the fall of Saddam Hussein a decade ago. Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said Iraq planned to lift exports to 3.4 million barrels daily, including 400,000 barrels from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

McCarthy & Stone beefs up board

McCarthy & Stone, the UK's biggest developer of retirement homes, beefed up its board today ahead of a likely £500m-plus flotation early next year. It has recruited Barchester Healthcare founder Mike Parson who is retiring as chief executive, and Frank Nelson, former finance director of builder Galliford Try, as non-executives.

Rio Tinto cuts capital spending

Rio Tinto has made a new move to save cash, announcing plans to cut capital spending in half amid falling metal prices. The world's second-biggest miner said it would reduce capital spending to $8bn in 2015 – half of what it was last year, and a bigger reduction than expected – as it looks to cut debt.

Spain jobless total starts to fall at last

Spanish unemployment fell last month for the first time since 1997 amid continuing signals that the economy is picking up after two years of recession. While the number registered as unemployed fell by a little under 2,500 in November, Spain still has 26 per cent of its workforce, or 4.8 million out of work.

Numis sees its profits triple

Business is booming at investment bank and broker Numis with headline profits more than trebling from £7.7mn to £25m last year. Numis helped to bring a raft of companies to the stock market including Foxtons, esure, Crest Nicholson and HellermannTyton.

Yuan takes second most-used spot

The yuan is now the second most-used currency in global finance. The market share of China's currency in global trade finance hit 8.66 per cent in October, according to the transaction services organisation Swift, up from just 1.89 per cent in January 2012.

Betfair eyes up Italy and the US

The online gaming house Betfair has fixed its sights on Italy and the US after swinging back into profit during the first half of the year. the firm, which thwarted a bid from private equity group CVC earlier this year, posted profits of £32m.

Return to growth for Northgate

Northgate saw a return to growth in its UK arm thanks to investment in new sites and an improved sales service. The group said the number of vehicles out for hire in the UK rose by 2,800, or 6.5 per cent, as half-year profits rose 12 per cent to £27m.

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