City&FinanceBriefing London Lite Wednesday, 26 August 2009 31 Inbrief Rise in houses with no workers THE number of households in the UK with no one over the age of 16 working has increased by 240,000 over the past year to 3.3 million, official figures showed today. The Office for National Statistics also reported that the number of working-age people in workless households jumped by 500,000 to 4.8 million in the year to June. HeinekensS&N buyboostsprofit HEINEKEN today toasted a surge in profits as its acquisition of UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle started to bear fruit. The Dutch brewer bought S&N with Danish rival Carlsberg for 7.8billion last year. Heineken took over S&Ns UK operations and said today that the takeover helped it to post a 20% rise in profits to 993million (870 million) for the first half of the year. London bosses mull perks curb ONE in seven London company directors is ready to cull employee benefits to cut costs, according to a survey by fleet management firm Lloyds TSB Autolease. It found that 14% would not offer employees any rewards at all and nearly a quarter would dump company cars. More than 10% said they would get rid of gym membership and private healthcare. Pawnbroker having a ball PAWNBROKER H&T is thriving as Britons flock to its 111 shops to convert valuables to cash. Figures showed a 48% rise in pre-tax profit to 7.7million in the six months to the end of June and a rise in dividend by 0.5p to 2.5p. The firm, which started in 1897, also said it has secured an enlarged four-year debt refinancing of 50 million. Australia Dollars 1.8532 Canada Dollars 1.6780 Denmark Kroner 8.1154 Eurozone Euro 1.0938 Hong Kong Dollars 12.0200 Japan Yen 146.5500 New Zealand Dollars 2.2245 South Africa Rand 11.9500 Sweden Kronor 11.0900 Switzerland Francs 1.6566 UAE Dirham 5.6317 United States Dollars 1.5605 TOURIST RATES DOWN 7.69 at 4909.11 FTSE 100 DOW JONES NIKKEI -$ UP 30.01 at 9539.29 UP 142.35 at 10,639.71 DOWN 0.47c at $1.6296 >>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 Worst is over, says ad giant THE crisis in adland has seen an unprecedented 10% slump in like-for-like revenues and a near halving in profits at WPP. But the boss of the worlds largest ad agency Sir Martin Sorrell, who today admitted to being caught out by the severity of the recession and its effect on advertising spend, said he believes the worst is over. He has slashed 6500 jobs worldwide and around 700 in the UK. Half-year profits slumped to 179 million from 338 million last time. Fiat gears itself up to bid for Vauxhall/Opel THE future ownership of General Motors Vauxhall/ Opel operations in the UK and Germany took a further twist today as fellow European operator Fiat readied itself for a bid. Until Friday, Germanys preferred choice of a bid from Canadian car parts maker Magna was seen as a done deal. But at a board meeting the deal was rejected and GM instead began considering retaining its European operations in the hope of capitalising on a longer-term revival. It is not immediately clear what the implications of a Fiat deal might be for the 5000 Vauxhall workers at Luton and Cheshires Ellesmere Port. However, the Italian carmaker would probably want to bring its recognised success at launching small cars to bear on the business. Its own relaunch of the Fiat 500 -- originally launched in the Sixties -- is one of the few success stories in the car world of the last five years. Vauxhalls Corsa and Agila small cars are seen as lacking the stylish look of the Fiat. Some industry observers have said the sudden decision by the GM board to consider shelving the sale to Magna could be little more than a negotiating tactic to push Magna or the German government to offer better terms. With an eye on a September election and the 20,000-strong Opel workforce in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered 4.5 billion (3.9 billion) of state aid to a Magna bid. City&FinanceBriefing Fans: Girls Aloud are happy shoppers at flagship London centre Westfield mall is shaking off the crisis blues BY BILL CONDIETHE bosses at Westfields glittering new shopping centre in White City today said they were cau- tiously optimistic that conditions in recession-hit London are stabilising. Although the UK was the worst performer among the Australian-based malls giants global operations, the divisions managing director Michael Gutman was upbeat about the 10 month- old London centre. Weve seen s ome mildly positive trends and an improvement in sentiment and outlook at all our touchpoints, he said. I think theres a wide- spread tourist factor across London and weve experienced a really quite strong July and August. We will have to see what happens when people get back from their summer holidays and the really important run-up to Christmas begins but I would say the signs are reasonably encouraging that we will see a solid Christmas period. Underlying profit in its eight UK centres slipped 4.1% in the half compared with a 0.6% decline in the US and growth of 6.2% in Australia. The company cited industry statistics saying London retail sales grew by 4.8% and were up 0.5% nationally for the half. Overall the group posted a A$708 million (362 million) loss for the period against a A$1.28 bil- lion profit this time last year. Revenue fell 6% to A$2.07 billion. Westfield London, the firms 1.7 billion flagship centre which boasts Girls Aloud among its customers, opened on 30 October just as the financial crisis was gaining momentum. The environment in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 was extremely chal- lenging, Gutman said. But we have seen a slight improvement in occupancy in Westfield London over the first half of the year and its now 99% and some stability across the country in terms of sales and occupancy. He added that, despite the difficult start, the centre has had 19 million customers and has revised its footfall figures for the first year to 22 million.