The Business Matrix: Saturday 27 July 2013


Activision set to go independent

The world's biggest video games company is going independent, after Vivendi said it is selling most of its stake in Activision Blizzard for £5.3bn. Activision – whose titles include the Call of Duty series and World of Warcraft – and a management group headed up by long-term boss Bobby Kotick are buying 85 per cent of the stake.

United surviving economic drought

The tough economic climate saw reduced thirst for water from the commercial sector, water firm United Utilities said. That has hit demand, but a regulated price increase meant revenues have still risen since April, to hit expectations. The utility did not mention a hosepipe ban, with the wet winter keeping reservoirs fairly full.

Anglo American plans cutbacks

Anglo American's new boss, Mark Cutifani, has unveiled a dramatic plan to slash costs, send expensive projects back to the drawing board and overhaul management at the troubled iron ore-to-diamonds miner. Half-yearly profits were shy of $3.3bn, 15 per cent down on the first six months of last year.

Wincanton battles tough markets

The trucking firm Wincanton said a flurry of deals with companies including supermarket Morrisons and drinks group Pernod Ricard are helping it battle tough markets. The logistics group said it is trading in line with expectations despite customers cutting costs.

TV wars will hit BSkyB's profits

BSkyB has warned operating profits will take a hit of up to £70m next year as it invests in new on-demand services and technology in the pay-TV and broadband wars with rivals from BT to Netflix. Annual profits rose 9 per cent to £1.3bn.

Egypt turmoil a concern for BG

BG Group, the oil and gas explorer that was once part of British Gas, has flagged up concerns about Egypt's military coup as it reported a 3 per cent decline in quarterly profits to £643m. President Mohamed Morsi was ousted this month, and BG is owed $1.3bn by Egypt, where it carried out about a fifth of its production.

Pearson to sell Merger Market

The Financial Times' owner Pearson put its Merger Market business up for sale yesterday, saying it did not fit the group's focus on education and learning, but reiterated it will not sell the flagship newspaper. Merger Market provides forward-looking intelligence on merger and acquisition activity and has annual sales of £100m.

Unilever looks to change auditor

The consumer goods giant Unilever is putting its audit out for tender days after the Competition Commission announced new rules to try to limit the powers of the Big Four auditors. PricewaterhouseCoopers has audited Unilever across more than 100 countries for 26 years and is not expected to re-tender.

Complaints down at HomeServe

The emergency plumber HomeServe said customer complaints between April and June dropped 39 per cent year on year as an inquiry by a City regulator continues. The group, which insures against home emergencies,said trading is in line with expectations.

Investors and staff plan to sue Hibu

About 300 small investors and staff in Hibu are threatening to sue the collapsed Yellow Pages publisher. The shareholder group are questioning the board decision not to pay its lenders £74m in February when it had £211m cash.