Business diary

Playtech profits up

By Candice Krieger, April 2, 2009

Betting can pay off, it seems. Online gaming company and software group Playtech has made an encouraging start to the year. The firm says it has not been affected by the macroeconomic downturn, reporting total revenues in 2008 of €111.45m, rising from €65.67m in 2007, while pre-tax profit climbed to €41.45m from €26.84m. Last year, Playtech, majority owned by Israeli Teddy Sagi, teamed up with William Hill in a joint venture in which it has a 29 per cent stake. It has added sports betting to its list of services after buying sports betting software provider Player2Players.

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Tucker calls time on Pru

By Candice Krieger, March 26, 2009

The man from the Pru, who has spent close to 25 years with the insurer, is moving on.

Mark Tucker will step down in October after four years at the helm. He has denied suggestions that he has been the victim of a boardroom rift with his successor Tidjane Thiam. He said: “This was an entirely personal decision taken by me. I have achieved what I set out to do and, having done that, I can’t think of a better time to move on.”

What next? “I think there’s at least one more big job in me.” The Treasury could soon be looking for a minister...

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And the best firm to work for is...

By Candice Krieger, March 26, 2009

High street jeweller Beaverbrooks has been named the UK’s top company to work for in the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For list. The family-owned firm, of which Mark Adlestone is the MD, donates 20 per cent of its post-tax profits to charity each year. Adlestone said: “Our work ethic is as important to us as ever and we pride ourselves on making our working environment open, positive and motivated.”

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Ocado brings Pesach to your door

By Candice Krieger, March 26, 2009

How considerate of Ocado. The online grocer has launched a Kosher for Passover range. The firm says this will give customers more time to search for chametz and get their homes ready for Seder night. The range of 138 different items includes products from Osem, Gilberts, Rakusens, Yarden, Kedem and Manischewitz.

Tim Steiner, the CEO of Ocado, says: “Our customers come from all manner of backgrounds and traditions, and Ocado wants to ensure all tastes are catered for.” Matzo that tastes of bread, please.

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City star’s new venture

By Candice Krieger, March 26, 2009

One of the City’s top fund managers, Alan Miller, is back in the limelight. According to reports, Miller, the former manager of asset management company New Star, has teamed up with Alexander Spencer-Churchill, the socialite and scion of the Churchill family, to establish a new wealth management group.

Miller left New Star two years ago following a bitter public divorce in which he was ordered to award a £5 million settlement to his wife.

The new venture, Spencer Churchill Miller, is due to be launched next month in Knightsbridge.

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Blank seeks to restore faith in Lloyds

By Candice Krieger, March 19, 2009

As the saying goes, “Don’t tar everyone with the same brush” — and Lloyds chairman Sir Victor Blank applied the phrase to retail bankers’ critics this week when addressing a British ORT business breakfast. Most likely, the audience took careful note.

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Millionaires buy up 02

By Candice Krieger, March 19, 2009

Property heavyweights Anthony Lyons and Simon Conway have teamed up with Sir Philip Green’s stepson Brett Palos to buy the Finchley Road 02 Centre and cinema complex in north London for £92 million, according to Property Week. Matterhorn Capital’s Lyons and Conway said little that will change at the north London venue. Apart from the films, one hopes.

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Mishcon’s QC

By Candice Krieger, March 19, 2009

Mishcon de Reya’s property lawyer Philip Freedman has been appointed an honorary Queen’s Counsel. He is a partner at the firm, where he has spent the past 38 years.

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£1m free legal advice

By Candice Krieger, March 12, 2009

There’s no such thing as a free lunch? Grahame Stowe, who runs Yorkshire law firm Grahame Stowe Bateson(GSB) might just disagree.

The company has donated more than £1m-worth of free legal advice since it was founded.

The firm, which has been hosting free weekly legal surgeries since opening in 1981, operates across seven locations in Leeds and Harrogate.

Mr Stowe’s wife, leading divorce lawyer Marilyn Stowe, has also been applauded for her pro-bono work.

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Own a share in a London square

By Candice Krieger, March 12, 2009

Fancy owning a piece of London? Israeli businessman Igal Ahouvi has teamed up with events company Planit Events to help redevelop London’s Finsbury Square, and they are seeking investors.

The proposed development (right) will include an underground conference centre set to rival simliar facilities at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. The estimated cost is £34m and it is set to be completed in 2011, according to Property Week.

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