The Business Matrix: Wednesday 5 February 2014


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Argos owner puts heat on suppliers

Argos and Homebase have become the latest companies demanding a rebate from suppliers. Both are owned by Home Retail Group and sent letters asking for 2 per cent turnover rebate starting next month. The company claim suppliers will benefit from its £300m upgrade to stores.

Hunt calls for staff conduct code

Lord Hunt, the former minister under Margaret Thatcher and Sir John Major, has called for bank staff to sign up to a code of professional conduct. He has asked Sir Richard Lambert, who is to publish his initial thoughts on the new banking standards body next week, to introduce a code, as well as a qualifications framework for bankers.

UBS increases salary boosts

The Swiss banking giant UBS has raised its bonus pool by 28 per cent for last year after its back-to-basics policy saw a sharp recovery with pre-tax profits up 44 per cent to Sfr4.1bn (£2.8bn). UBS, which has thousands of employees in the City, said its 60,000 staff would share in a bonus pool of Sfr3.5bn.

BG Group reports slump in profits

Chris Finlayson's dreadful first year as chief executive at BG Group was yesterday capped by the news that profits slumped 37 per cent to $4.16bn (£2.54bn). He said he shared shareholders' "disappointment". BG's results included a $2.4bn write-off. However, the dividend was up 10 per cent to 28.75 cents per share.

£75m contract for Balfour Beatty

The infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has been awarded a seven-year contract from Network Rail, expected to be worth in excess of £75m, for the design and installation of all electrification equipment on rail routes between Manchester-Preston-Blackpool and Manchester-Stalybridge.

Trinity Mirror trading strong

Trinity Mirror has shrugged off a £225m writedown on the historic value of its newspaper businesses as investors focused on a strong trading performance in recent months. Its shares rose 4 per cent after the Daily Mirror owner said underlying profits have been boosted by improved advertising.

TalkTalk's value deals reap reward

TalkTalk's strategy of dodging the costly pay-TV wars between BSkyB and BT and offering "value" deals for customers who only want "a little bit" of premium TV content looks to be working. Revenue rose 5 per cent to £436m in the past three months.

Lloyds group suspends trader

Lloyds Banking Group has suspended one of its foreign exchange traders after an internal investigation into allegations of currency manipulation, according to Reuters. It marks the first time the bank has been linked with the currency allegations.

Home group's sales soaring

The home furnishings group Walker Greenbank, whose brands include Sanderson, Morris & Co, Harlequin, Zoffany and Scion, said annual profits for 2013 are set to be at the top of forecasts as second half sales rose 3.4 per cent to £78m.

Better Capital's shares crash

The venture capitalist Jon Moulton's quoted vehicle Better Capital's shares crashed 21 per cent yesterday after it warned of substantial writedowns on two unspecified companies in its funds. The portfolio includes luxury yacht maker Fairline.