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Business Analysis & Features

Business week in review

In profit...

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews announced on Monday that the company had soared (geddit? Just in case you were a juror at the Vicky Pryce speeding points trial, this is an unsubtle allusion to the fact that Heathrow is an airport and aeroplanes fly – soar, if you will – into the air from there) back into the black after £166.7m loss in 2011.

Heathrow, which was previously known as BAA and rather confusingly includes a handful of other airports like Glasgow and Southampton, made a £46.4m pre-tax profit.

On Wednesday, Countrywide, the collection of estate agent chains that works on one in 11 of all homes sold in the UK, announced it will return to the stock market. That'll be a nice little earner for boss Grenville Turner, as managers hold between 4 and 10 per cent of the equity.

On Thursday, BAE Systems chief executive Ian King placated investors who are nervous over the defence group's strategy and declining military budgets with the announcement of a £1bn share buyback.

...at a loss

Poor Antonio Horta-Osorio. There he was, the first bank boss to concede that payment protection insurance was mis-sold and victims should be repaid, yet still Lloyds gets slammed with a £4.3m fine for failing to pay compensation quickly enough to 140,000 customers.

Making matters worse, this news came on Tuesday, the day before the Lloyds retail PR team had chosen to host a pub quiz for personal finance and business journalists. It is important to note that a brains trust formed out of the talents of this newspaper, the daily sister title and the London Evening Standard swept to victory in the quiz.

Outgoing Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King managed to confuse the markets on Wednesday, when the Monetary Policy Committee's minutes were published showing he wanted to pump an extra £25bn into the economy. He was outvoted, but the news still sent the pound tumbling.

Also on Wednesday, RSA boss Simon Lee annoyed investors by cutting the dividend for the first time in 10 years, though he declared this "a prudent move".