RBS at­tracts new pay crit­i­cism

The Herald Business - - The Month In Headlines -

MIL­LION POUND SALARIES FOR 95 RBS EM­PLOY­EES

MAR 9 THE part tax­payer-owned Royal Bank of Scot­land has come un­der re­newed pres­sure over ex­ec­u­tive pay af­ter it emerged 95 staff were paid more than £1 mil­lion last year.The Ed­in­burgh in­sti­tu­tion, which was bailed out by the UK Government in 2008 and has been be­set by an in­ter­est-rate rig­ging scan­dal and fall­ing prof­its, also had one em­ployee earn­ing above £5m in 2012. RBS, which is 81% owned by the Government, re­vealed to­tal pay for its eight most se­nior ex­ec­u­tives was £21m, down 16% on 2011. Sir Mervyn King, the Bank of Eng­land gov­er­nor, has stated that RBS could not be sold off un­til it ac­knowl­edges the full scale of its bad debts.

COAL MIN­ING ON THE EDGE AS FIRM AXES 60% OF STAFF

Mar 8 COAL min­ing in Scot­land is on the brink of obliv­ion af­ter Bri­tain’s sec­ond largest pro­ducer said more than half of its work­ers are to be axed as ma­jor fi­nan­cial prob­lems threaten its fu­ture. The coun­try’s old­est ma­jor in­dus­try will be re­duced to just 308 work­ers af­ter Scot­tish Coal’s par­ent com­pany an­nounced it is to axe 450 of its 758-strong work­force. Scot­tish Re­sources Group (SRG) also said it would close or moth­ball en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive min­ing projects, blam­ing the rise in cheap im­ports and frack­ing for nat­u­ral gas in the US .

GROWTH FORECAST GLOOM FOR SCOTS ECON­OMY

Mar 7 AN in­flu­en­tial Scot­tish eco­nomic think tank has fur­ther slashed its fore­casts for growth and pre­dicted un­em­ploy­ment will rise as it de­clares the Coali­tion Government’s aus­ter­ity poli­cies have se­verely dented growth. The Fraser of Al­lan­der In­sti­tute at Strath­clyde Univer­sity now ex­pects Scot­tish gross domestic prod­uct (GDP) will in­crease by just 0.9% in 2013 and 1.7% next year. Ex­perts at the in­sti­tute pre­dict an­other 24,000 peo­ple will join the dole queue in Scot­land in 2012 and 2013 amid an anaemic re­cov­ery from the slow­down that fol­lowed the global fi­nan­cial melt­down in 2008.

WOOD OP­TI­MISTIC AS PROF­ITS GROW BY 35%

Mar 6 SHARES in Wood Group rose 8% yes­ter­day adding around £220 mil­lion to its stock mar­ket worth af­ter the com­pany posted 35% growth in prof­its and re­as­sured the City about the out­look for trad­ing. The Aberdeen-based oil ser­vices gi­ant achieved $461m (£305m) earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est tax and amor­ti­sa­tion (EBITA) from con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tions in 2012, com­pared with $342m in the pre­ced­ing year, af­ter ben­e­fit­ing from boom­ing in­vest­ment by oil and gas firms around the world.

BPI PROF­ITS LIFT WOES IN CON­STRUC­TION SEC­TOR

Mar 5 BRI­TISH Poly­thene In­dus­tries (BPI), the Greenock-based pack­ag­ing man­u­fac­turer, has over­come a “chal­leng­ing eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment” to record op­er­at­ing prof­its of £22.5 mil­lion last year – up from £21.6m in 2011. The com­pany, which em­ploys 350 peo­ple across its Scot­tish op­er­a­tions in Ardeer in North Ayr­shire, Greenock and Dum­fries, said un­der­ly­ing pre­tax prof­its were up 7% to £20.4m for the year to De­cem­ber 31, 2012, com­pared with the £19.1m in 2011.

STAN­DARD LIFE TRE­BLES ITS SIZE WITH NEW­TON DEAL

Feb 28 STAN­DARD Life has un­der­lined its tran­si­tion from in­surer to as­set man­ager by scoop­ing up New­ton’s £3.6 bil­lion pri­vate client busi­ness in a deal that more than tre­bles the size of Stan­dard Life Wealth and puts it among the UK mar­ket lead­ers. The deal was wel­comed in Ed­in­burgh as a strong pos­i­tive for the Scot­tish fi­nan­cial sec­tor. SLW will pay up to £83.5 mil­lion af­ter win­ning the auc­tion an­nounced last De­cem­ber by New­ton, the in­vest­ment man­ager founded in 1978 by former Ed­in­burgh fund man­ager Ste­wart New­ton but bought 20 years later by Mel­lon Cor­po­ra­tion, it­self bought by Bank of New York in 2007. Lon­don-based New­ton man­ages £50bn in to­tal, un­der £1bn of it from Ed­in­burgh.

DEVRO MAKES A CASE FOR FUR­THER GROWTH

Feb 27 DEVRO, the Scot­tish-based sup­plier of col­la­gen cas­ings for sausage prod­ucts, re­ported strong sales in devel­oped and emerg­ing mar­kets in 2012 as it con­tin­ued to in­vest in pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and up­grade tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany, which em­pha­sised that it has no link to the con­tin­u­ing horse­meat scan­dal, re­ported rev­enue growth of 5.9% for the year to De­cem­ber 31, up to £241.1 mil­lion from £227.7m in 2011, amid grow­ing global de­mand for its prod­ucts.

£10M BOOST FOR AIR­PORT AHEAD OF 2014 GAMES

Feb 26 GLAS­GOW Air­port is bring­ing for­ward £10 mil­lion of in­vest­ment which will see its in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals hall re­vamped ahead of the 2014 Com­mon­wealth Games. The ex­pan­sion and im­prove­ment of the in­ter­na­tional hall forms part of a gen­eral ter­mi­nal over­haul to en­sure the site is ready to deal with the ath­letes and spec­ta­tors ex­pected for the sport­ing event. In­cluded within the in­vest­ment plan is a new floor and other mod­erni­sa­tions in the checkin area – some of which was dam­aged dur­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tack in 2007 – and around £1.5m on up­grad­ing toi­lets across the air­port.

SCOTS BUSI­NESSES FACE THREAT OF £400M TAX BILL

Feb 25 SCOT­TISH com­pa­nies that used tax-avoid­ance schemes run by a lead­ing ac­coun­tancy firm could face com­bined tax bills of up to £400 mil­lion to set­tle with HMRC and avoid the schemes be­ing chal­lenged. Pre­mier Strate­gies, a di­vi­sion of RSM Tenon, is es­ti­mated to have shel­tered up to £1 bil­lion for dozens of size­able Scot­tish com­pa­nies over the past decade, avoid­ing £400m of taxes. But it is now invit­ing clients in its em­ployee ben­e­fit trusts (EBTs), its best­selling prod­uct, to set­tle with HMRC at a pre­dicted cost of 40% of their shel­tered cash.

SLATER HOGG OWNER PLANS RE­TURN TO STOCK MAR­KET

Feb 21 COUN­TRY­WIDE Hold­ings, the es­tate agent that counts Scot­land’s Slater Hogg & How­i­son among its high street brands, plans to re­turn to the stock mar­ket af­ter

an ab­sence of six years. Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Grenville Turner cited signs that sen­ti­ment was im­prov­ing in the “broadly flat” hous­ing mar­ket as Coun­try­wide un­veiled its flota­tion plans yes­ter­day. Coun­try­wide, which has 40 branches in Scot­land, 25 trad­ing as Slater Hogg & How­i­son and 15 as Coun­try­wide, aims to raise £200 mil­lion through an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing (IPO) of new or­di­nary shares.

CALL CEN­TRE BOSS HAILS NEW FRENCH OWNER

Feb 20 SCOT­TISH call cen­tre com­pany HEROtsc, which em­ploys about 3000 peo­ple north of the Bor­der, has been sold by its In­dian owner to Paris-head­quar­tered Web­help Group in a deal ex­pected to cre­ate more jobs. The deal val­ues HEROtsc at around €90 mil­lion (£78m). In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer Hero Group is sell­ing its near-90% stake in the busi­ness, with the man­age­ment of HEROtsc rolling over their com­bined hold­ing of around 12% to 13% into the re­named Web­help TSC.

US GI­ANT TO TAKE OVER ATM AD­VERT PIONEERS I-DE­SIGN

Feb 14 I-DE­SIGN chief ex­ec­u­tive Ana Ste­wart could get a £1.4 mil­lion wind­fall af­ter direc­tors agreed to sell the cash-ma­chine mar­ket­ing firm in a deal that will de­prive Scot­land of an­other listed com­pany. The board of the Dundee-based firm an­nounced it had agreed the terms for a takeover by Amer­ica’s Cardtron­ics, which will value i-de­sign at £8.5m. News of the deal sent shares in the Aim-listed firm surg­ing and it closed up 157%, 36p at 59p. Ms Ste­wart, who founded the busi­ness in 1991, has a 16.1% stake and is set to be the big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary of the pro­posed deal.

FAROE KEEN TO COM­PETE FOR NORTH SEA OIL AS­SETS

Feb 12 THE chief ex­ec­u­tive of Faroe Pe­tro­leum has said he re­mains en­thu­si­as­tic for UK North Sea deals in spite of fierce com­pe­ti­tion for as­sets. Gra­ham Ste­wart told The Her­ald the com­pany still wants to buy UK pro­duc­ing in­ter­ests af­ter miss­ing out on a num­ber of tar­gets that it bid for last year. Five months af­ter he said Faroe could pay up to $200 mil­lion (£127m) for a North Sea tar­get, Mr Ste­wart noted the com­pany has $250m of un­drawn credit fa­cil­i­ties that it could use to fund the right deal. Mr Ste­wart con­firmed the com­pany might draw on the war chest to take over ri­vals as well as buy­ing in­di­vid­ual as­sets, with­out giv­ing de­tails.

Bob Keiller, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Wood Group, saw prof­its up by 35% Amanda McMil­lan is plan­ning £10m of in­vest­ment at Glas­gow Air­port

Sausage cas­ing maker Devro re­ported rev­enue of £241m I-De­sign’s Ana Ste­wart could be set for wind­fall af­ter sale

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