RBS attracts new pay criticism
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