The Business Matrix: Wednesday 8 June 2011

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Dawson buy turns Smiths digital

Smiths News is set to break into the ebook market after it agreed to buy its academic-focused rival Dawson for £20m. The newspaper and magazine wholesaler said Dawson’s largest trading division – Dawson Books, which supplies to 80 per cent of the country’s universities – would provide an ebook platform for its own book wholesaler, Bertrams.

Investor: MWB bid ‘defies logic’

Pyrrho Investment has accused MWB Business Exchange’s independent board of defying logic by rejecting a £60m bid on valuation grounds in favour of an offer of barely half that sum. The board recommended last month a £32m offer from MWB Group, which owns 72 per cent of the office space group. Pyrrho is the second-largest investor.

Walt Disney to cut 200 jobs at studios

Walt Disney is expected to cut about 200 positions at its movie studios next week, as it reduces its focus on home entertainment distribution of DVDs. The cuts, which make up just under 5 per cent of its workforce, come as the film studio has been increasing its input of movies from Marvel, including X-Men: First Class, and DreamWorks.

Gas bills to rise by nearly 20%

Scottish Power is to increase domestic gas tariffs by an average of 19 per cent at the start of August in a move that could push consumer price inflation to a three-year high above 5 per cent. The utility also said electricity bills would be 10 per cent more expensive from 1 August. The rises will affect 2.4 million households. MORE

Kleeneze owner slashes losses

Findel, the owner of the Kleeneze, Kitbag and Express Gifts home shopping businesses, said its three-year recovery plan was on track after annual losses fell sharply from £75m to £1.4m. The firm was rocked last year by accounting problems at its educational supplies business, prompting an £81m cash call.

Eurotunnel expands in ports

The operator of the Channel Tunnel, Eurotunnel, has been awarded a contract to review the safety regulations at rail network operator Grand Port Maritime in Bordeaux, France. The deal will see Eurotunnel extend its presence in French ports. It also manages rail infrastructure at Dunkirk and Nantes Saint Nazaire.

Slowdown in UK jobs market

The labour market suffered a “marked slowdown” last month, with the slowest growth in permanent and temporary staff appointments in seven months, according to a KPMG/REC survey. The report also showed that the overall demand for staff had risen at its slowest pace in five months.

Government looks at land sales

The Government is planning to sell public land worth £10bn to address a chronic housing shortage and help erode its record budget deficit. The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is due to announce that all government departments with significant land banks will be asked to identify suitable land by the autumn.

Barclays to appeal Lehman ruling

Barclays will appeal a US court ruling that it must turn over $2bn (£1.2bn) in cash to the estate of bankrupt Lehman Brothers, whose broker-dealer business it bought at the height of the stock market panic in 2008. The two sides have been fighting for more than two years over the details of that deal.

Charles Stanley 30% profit boost

The stockbroker Charles Stanley has reported a 30 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £13.4m in the year to 31 March, boosted by the strong performance of equity markets. Funds under management and administration increased 13 per cent to £14.5bn and revenues rose 9 per cent to a record £126m.

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