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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 6 March 2013

JLT chief hails City's success

Forget bashing bankers – we should be heralding the success of London's insurance industry, the boss of Jardine Lloyd Thompson said yesterday.

Dominic Burke added the City was attracting insurers from the world despite the UK's economic problems. JLT reported a 17 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £156.8m in 2012.

Comparison site feeling the pinch

Comparison site Moneysupermarket saw revenue growth slow as the Government's Funding for Lending Scheme pushed down rates on savings products and "significantly impacted" demand. But it insisted the rest of the business was performing strongly. Pre-tax profits rose to £31.5m against £24.3m a year earlier.

Thomson in 787 refund offer

Thomson Airways became the first carrier to offer refunds to passengers who had hoped to travel on the grounded Dreamliner. The airline, owned by TUI Travel, planned to start flying 787s in May, but had to cancel due to the jet's battery problems. The 787 is being investigated by officials after a fire and emergency landing.

Page looks abroad for growth

Recruitment specialist Michael Page is pinning its hopes on emerging markets growth after a fall in profits.

It now has 16 offices in Asia and 20 in Latin America, producing 21 per cent of its profits, but is opening more. Overall, the company's pre-tax profits fell 33.8 per cent to £57m last year.

Cupid profits rise despite BBC tiff

Cupid, the group behind lonely heart websites such as, posted a 31 per cent rise in profits last year after wooing 1.8 million new subscribers.

Chief executive Bill Dobbie denied claims in a BBC report that some members had been targeted with fake messages.

Paddy Power's Cheltenham stunt

Gambling group Paddy Power, in one of its typical stunts, says that if the 2-1 favourite Hurricane Fly romps home it will refund all losing Champion Hurdle bets at Cheltenham, a move that could cost it €4m (£3.5m). The news came as the bookmaker's profits rose 15 per cent to a record €139m last year.

Risk to Serco's FTSE position

Serco is fighting for its future in the FTSE 100 ahead of the quarterly reshuffle of the blue-chip index today. That's despite the outsourcer posting a 26.7 per cent rise in full-year profits to £302m, and telling investors it had signed a record level of contracts in 2012.

Food price rises at five-month low

Food price inflation was at its lowest for five months in February, at 3.5 per cent, but less discounting by non-food chains resulted in another jump in overall price rises. Annual shop price inflation rose by 0.5 of a percentage point to 1.1 per cent, the British Retail Consortium said.

Turbulence at BA's airline group

International Airlines Group, owner of British Airways and Iberia, posted a 2.4 per cent fall in February traffic, as strong growth at BA failed to make up for weakness at the Spanish carrier following a series of strikes over massive job cuts.

Skyscrapers set to boost ISG

The looming completion of the Walkie-Talkie and Cheesegrater skyscrapers in the City will trigger a boom in office fit-out work later this year, Interior Services Group believes. ISG saw fit-out orders nearly double to £170m last year.

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