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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 7 November 2012


Car sales rise 12% in October

Britons bought 12 per cent more cars this October than last – which was not just good news on the forecourts but also as a barometer of growing consumer confidence. The growing demand for new vehicles saw optimistic car makers raise their expectations for sales this year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

Government jobs boost Babcock

Profits at Babcock International, the engineering services group, jumped by 13 per cent in the first half of the year as cost-cutting governments around the world farmed out more work. Babcock, which maintains British navy submarines, reported interim, pre-tax profits of £143m, its support services unit boosting revenues.

Inflation fears hit pensions

Fears of higher inflation saw the pension gap at the heart of Britain's listed companies widen by £13bn last month. The deficit of FTSE 350 pension schemes hit £55bn in October, compared with £42bn the month before, according to figures from advisory Mercer, due to a rise in the price inflation outlook.

L&S agrees Metric Property takeover

London & Stamford has agreed to take over Metric Property Investments, in a merger that analysts say could herald a wave of similar deals among smaller property firms. L&S, which develops offices and luxury homes, will own 75 per cent of the enlarged company.

China growth helps InterCon

Hotel group InterContinental's revenues rose by only 1 per cent in the third quarter to $473m (£260m), but operating profits grew 9 per cent to $167m. Company boss Richard Solomons said in China InterCon hotels were outperforming the market.

Morgan Sindall boss Smith is out

Morgan Sindall's chief executive paid the price for a profit warning yesterday, as the builder's founder reclaimed the reins of the business. John Morgan, who set up the company 35 years ago and still owns 10.4 per cent of the shares, was previously chief executive and handed over to Paul Smith, who fell on his sword yesterday.

Barclays' ING bid to be examined

The Office of Fair Trading is to scrutinise Barclays' planned takeover of Dutch rival ING's British retail banking business to make sure it would not restrict competition. The consumer watchdog said parties with comments about how the deal might affect competition should submit them by 20 November.

Sky signs second Hollywood deal

The pay-TV giant BSkyB has signed its second big premium movie rights deal with a "Big Six" Hollywood film studio – beating off competition from online rivals such as Net Flix and LoveFilm. Sky's exclusive agreement with NBC Universal follows a similar deal it had signed with Warner Bros.

Nissan hit by Chinese boycott

Nissan became the latest Japanese company hit by the nation's diplomatic row with China yesterday, as the car maker slashed full-year profit forecasts by a fifth to $3.99bn (£2.5bn). It's due to protests over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Investors cheered by DS Smith move

Packaging company DS Smith cheered investors as it said it will save more money and cut debt faster than expected after its acquisition of the Swedish recycled packaging business of SCA. It said the SCA deal was helping to boost client numbers.