City&FinanceBriefing London Lite Thursday, 17 September 2009 29 Inbrief LossesatFrench Connectiongrow l FRENCH Connection, the High Street fashion house, is still bleeding red ink. Losses in the six months to July widened to 12.8 million, forcing the company to close its Northern European retail operations and cut staff in search of a profit. Those losses are up from 5.4 million last time around. Fifty head office positions have also been cut. B&Q is a gem for Kingfisher l KiNgFiSHER, the company behind B&Q, reckons it has had a good recession, with DiY trendy again. Chief executive ian Cheshire today said: People were looking to improve rather than move and B&Q has been the jewel in the crown. in the half year to August, profit was up 35% to 288 million on sales 7% ahead at 5.5 billion. The interim dividend is held at 1.925p. Sales strong at buoyant Booker l CASH and carry wholesaler Booker saw strong trading in the last three months with like-for-like sales up by 7.6%. Non-tobacco sales were up 8.5% in the 12 weeks to 11 September, while tobacco sales rose by 6.2%. That took overall sales for the first half of its financial year up to a like-for- like growth rate of 7.7%, compared with just 1.1% a year ago. Balfour cash call for big US buy l BALFOUR Beatty is on the verge of a major acquisition believed to be in the US which will see it go to shareholders to raise around 350 million via a rights issue. The British construction giant has already signalled its expansion plans in North America, which currently makes up around 30% of its revenues Australia Dollars 1.8002 Canada Dollars 1.6788 Denmark Kroner 7.9368 Eurozone Euro 1.0697 Hong Kong Dollars 12.1100 Japan Yen 141.9900 New Zealand Dollars 2.1645 South Africa Rand 11.3300 Sweden Kronor 10.9000 Switzerland Francs 1.6206 UAE Dirham 5.6722 United States Dollars 1.5716 ToUriST raTeS UP 41.58 at 5166.18 FTSe 100 dow joneS niKKei -$ UP 108.30 at 9791.71 UP 173.03 at 10,443.80 UP 0.52c at $1.6542 >>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 Twitter is worth $1 billion TWITTER, the social networking site, is being valued at $1 billion in its latest fundraising round, it was claimed today. Reports in Silicon Valley said staff had been told by chief executive Evan Williams that Twitter was closing a round of financing that would raise $50 million to expand the business. A previous round of funding eight months ago was done on terms valuing the business at only $250 million, the TechCrunch website reported. 45 bankers to share 240m from Barclays A GROUP of 45 bankers stand to make more than 240 million between them after they quit Barclays to take on a contract to manage 7.5 billion of the banks riskiest assets, it emerged today. The deal was announced by Barclays yesterday, but the true extent of the potential profit for the bankers taking on the toxic assets only emerged today. They are led by Brits Michael Keely, who was a senior executives at Barclays Capital, and Stephen King who headed its mortgage trading arm. The team has registered the new fund in the Cayman Islands, and has set up a fund management business in New York which will receive 24 million a year from Barclays for the next decade to manage the toxic assets. If the products increase in value over that time, their profit will be far bigger. Meanwhile, Barclays is retaining the risk of losses if the products default. The move will see the 45 bankers potentially avoid any strict new rules on pay and bonuses that come out of next weeks meeting of the worlds top economies leaders in Pittsburgh. In a complicated piece of financial engineering, Barclays said the shift of assets did not remove any risk from its balance sheet, but guaranteed it a steadier stream of income from them. City analysts admitted they were puzzled by the scheme and could not see any great immediate benefit. Royal trade: chain has signed a deal with Prince Charles brand a classy sales leap at royal store waitroseWAITROSE today showed it is not too upmar- ket to make money during the recession -- fending off the challenge of discount supermarkets. The upmarket grocery chain -- which has just done a deal with Prince Charless Duchy Originals brand -- saw a jump in sales and profits in the first half of the year. When the downturn began, some feared it would be too upmarket to prosper, and that cheap rivals such as Lidl and Aldi would grab its share of the market. But today the grocer, owned by John Lewis Partnership, said sales in the half-year to August jumped 7.4% to 2.2 billion. Those took profits to 121 mil- lion, up 19%. John Lewis chairman Charlie Mayfield was delighted. Its a really strong bounceback for Waitrose. We launched the essentials range which cut prices, but kept quality, and customers loved it, he said. The wider Lewis group also prospered, grabbing market share in fashion and elec- tronics. However, home furnishings was hit by the house market slump, said Mayfield. This time last year conditions were horrible. But we prepared for the recession. We nailed everything down tightly and things have not turned out as bad as we feared, he added. BY SIMON ENGLISH index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html