City&FinanceBriefing London Lite Monday, 10 August 2009 31 Inbrief Brands swoop lifts Portmeirion l Taking over bust rivals Spode and Royal Worcester last spring will help china maker Portmeirion boost its sales by 7 million this year and 12 million next. The potter, best known for its Botanic garden range, is expecting good demand for Spodes Christmas Tree pattern release. First-half sales rose 11% to 17 million with profits up 31% to 532,000. Antiques dealer weathers slump l Bond Street antique furniture and art dealer Mallett is suffering through the recession but believes it is surviving in better shape than some of its competitors. Losses mounted from 297,000 to 820,000 in the six months to end-June on sales 17% down at 6.78 million. But it said turnover rose 72% compared with trading in the second half of last year. Resolution set to land Friends l FRiEndS Provident is poised to accept a 1.86 billion takeover bid from Clive Cowderys Resolution in a deal that could be unveiled tomorrow. The insurers banking advisers goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Cazenove are in talks today with Resolution to iron out wrinkles. The deal will see Friends removed from the stock market to become a subsidiary of Resolution. Recovery is still two years off l a SECond great depression has been avoided but a full economic recovery remains two years away, nobel Prize-winning economist Paul krugman said today. krugman told a conference in kuala Lumpur that the worst of the crisis is behind us thanks to aggressive stimulus packages from governments across the globe. Australia Dollars 1.8931 Canada Dollars 1.7162 Denmark Kroner 8.2633 Eurozone Euro 1.1134 Hong Kong Dollars 12.3200 Japan Yen 152.0900 New Zealand Dollars 2.3209 South Africa Rand 12.6500 Sweden Kronor 11.4800 Switzerland Francs 1.7011 UAE Dirham 5.7712 United States Dollars 1.5991 TouRisT RATes DOWN 33.05 at 4698.38 FTse 100 dow jones nikkei -$ UP 113.81 at 9370.07 UP 112.17 at 10,524.26 DOWN 0.64 at $1.6622 >>For all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit thisismoney.co.uk * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. not all stocks are available Heathrow enjoys a july high HeatHrows passenger numbers jumped in July in one of its busiest months, operator Baa said today. overall, the credit crunch meant Baas airports -- Heathrow, Gatwick and stansted -- carried 2.4% fewer passengers than in July last year, although that was better than the 5.9% and 7.3% falls in June and May respectively. However, Heathrow was up 0.9% at 6.5 million passengers. But stansted was down 5.7% and Gatwick was off by 4.8%. Revealed: how banks profiteer from lending Banks were thrown into fresh controversy over excess profits today after it emerged that the spread between their cost of borrowing and the interest rates they levy on businesses and homeowners has rocketed to new highs. figures compiled by the Evening standard reveal the difference between the three- month Libor, the London inter-bank offered rate, and the average interest rate charged on mortgages has shot up to 3.7%, almost seven times higher than the difference recorded this time last year. The figures pile further pressure on Chancellor alistair Darling to do more to force banks to lend at affordable rates. They came amid rising public alarm at banks quick return to multi-billion-pound profits. Consumer group Which? condemned the spread, which it described as significantly higher than its ever been before. spokesman Vera Cottrell said: Its clear that banks are making the most of the lack of competition in the lending market to boost their profit margins and its coming at the expense of consumers. The picture is even worse for business customers, where the spread can commonly be as high as 7.12%. Barclays and HsBC posted half-year pre-tax profits of 3 billion last week. Libor, the rate at which banks lend to each other, fell to fresh lows of 0.855% on friday. Stormy stunner: merger snaps up Lily Cole Beckham agency expands as it seals storm dealBY lawrence conwaYtHe celebrity management firm behind David and Victoria Beck- ham has snapped up the storm fashion model agency which boasts catwalk stars including Kate Moss. simon Fullers 19 entertainment, which also created hit talent shows american Idol and Pop Idol, has acquired a 51% controlling stake in London-based storm Model Management. the deal brings together some of the worlds biggest celebrities across fashion, music and sport. storm counts such supermodels as Lily Cole, Cindy Crawford and eva Herzigova among its famous faces, while 19 boasts a roster ranging from the Beckhams to singer Kelly Clarkson and tennis star andy Murray. Mr Fuller, who previously man- aged the spice Girls, said the takeover cements 19s move fur- ther into the fashion world, adding to the firms portfolio that includes Victoria Beckhams fashion collection and a joint venture with designer roland Mouret. with 19 moving more into the world of fashion and style, the opportunity to join forces with storm and its incredible heritage and dynamic approach to the future, was irresistible, he said storm, founded in 1987, has been increasingly moving into celebrity management, with Harry Potter actress emma watson and singer Lily allen now on its books.