The Business Matrix: Saturday 5 May 2012


Friday 04 May 2012 23:37

Rentokil hopes to catch City Link rat

Alan Brown, the chief executive of Rentokil, yesterday claimed the long wait for a turnaround in the disappointing performance of its parcels business City Link is over. Not quite yet, though: the royal ratcatcher's 1.1 per cent rise in pre-tax quarterly profit to £26.3m was hamstrung by still-widening City Link losses.

Rolls-Royce flies with eco demand

Aero engines maker Rolls-Royce predicted profits would rise again this year thanks to strong demand for its fuel-efficient plane engines. Unlike less successful companies, Rolls-Royce suffered no major shareholder battles at its annual general meeting yesterday.

Sly leaves Mirror with £1m payoff

Sly Bailey has struck a £1m "compromise agreement" to smooth her exit from Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror and The People. She will pick up the pay-off for being a "good leaver" – City jargon for going without a fuss – after a row with shareholders about her excessive pay package.

House prices at lowest since 2009

House prices are at their lowest in nearly three years, but Britons are more optimistic of a market bounceback, lender Halifax said yesterday. The average house price slid by 2.4 per cent to £159,883 in April, as the end of the stamp duty exemption in March put off buyers. Prices are at their lowest since July 2009.

Energy firm hit with £1.3m fine

Scottish & Southern Energy has been handed a £1.25m fine for mis-selling home energy contracts on people's doorsteps. In what has been a long-running saga, SSE was hauled over the coals for misrepresenting the extent of savings customers could make if they switched to its services.

BC muscled out of Fitness First gyms

Fitness First, the British gyms chain, is close to a deal which would see private-equity owner BC Partners give up its stake after the company struggled during the economic downturn. Lenders Marathon and Oaktree will write down £600m of debt to zero in return for 75 per cent of the company if the deal goes ahead.

BA boosted by business class

British Airways owner International Airlines Group said April was a strong month due to rising numbers of first and business-class travellers. Traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometers, rose 2.9 per cent on a year ago. The "front end of the plane" was up 4.8 per cent thanks to wealthy travellers.

O'Brien raises newspaper stake

The telecoms investor Denis O'Brien has increased his stake in Independent News & Media, the newspaper group and former owner of The Independent, to 29.9 per cent. Mr O'Brien recently succeeded in ousting Gavin O'Reilly as chief executive following a period of poor performance by the company.

Five bidders for UK nuke power

A total of five potential bidders are eyeing up the UK nuclear power joint venture between E.ON and RWE known as Horizon. The pair want to sell Horizon, which was to invest £15 billion building two new power stations. Westinghouse, Exelon, and Chinese and Middle Eastern investors are among bidders.

Investors urged to keep voting 'no'

Pensions adviser Pirc has urged shareholders to vote against the boardroom pay packages at metals giant Glencore, where some potential bonuses are worth seven times directors' salaries . It also called for the ousting of the entire board at materials engineering group Cookson.

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