Ex HBOS chief ‘sorry’ for downfall
TURNAROUND AS MILLER REVEALS £6.6M PROFIT
April 15 MILLER Group is back in the black with a pre-tax profit of £6.6 million and has indicated it is expecting steady growth across its housebuilding, construction, mining and commercial property businesses. Results for 2012 showed a marked turnaround from the £30.4m loss posted in the previous year. The Edinburgh company’s balance sheet has been transformed after a large debt-forequity swap with lenders including Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Scotland and National Australia Bank, plus a £160m capital injection from GSO Capital Partners, which is part of privateequity group Blackstone.
PRESSURE ON HBOS CHIEFS AS CROSBY DITCHES HIS TITLE
April 10 CALLS are mounting for all disgraced former directors of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) to pay for their actions after the onetime head of the bank offered to surrender his knighthood in a bid to avoid becoming a hate figure like Fred Goodwin. Sir James Crosby also announced he would hand back one-third of his pension, reducing his package to just in excess of £400,000 a year, and his resignation from the board of catering company Compass.
XCITE’S BENTLEY FIELD RESERVES ‘SIGNIFICANT’
April 9 XCITE Energy has declared its Bentley field as one of the North Sea’s major strategic assets after the latest assessment revealed greater reserves than previously indicated. The Aberdeen-based company said its updated reserves assessment measured the field’s probable reserves at 250 million barrels, more than double the previous estimate.
BRANSON: AIR VENTURE WILL NOT AFFECT EAST COAST BID
April 9 SIR Richard Branson has said his new Scottish short-haul air services will not affect his next bid for the East Coast rail franchise on the same routes. Little Red will replace the former BMI services on 26 flights a day between Heathrow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, carrying up to one million passengers a year and creating 375 jobs, including 130 in Scotland. Virgin Holidays is to create a 15 jobs with three new outlets in Scotland.
TYRE FIRM STAYS ON TRACK AS REVENUE TAKES OFF
April 8 ONLINE tyre firm Blackcircles, which counts former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy among its shareholders, has posted a 30% hike in revenue, from £17.9 million to £23.2m. The Peebles company has plans to grow into a £100m business in the next five years. The latest financial report from the retailer, which has a partnership with Tesco, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation had more than doubled to £600,000, while pre-tax profits were likely to be more than £400,000.
DIAGEO PLANS £50M EASTER ROSS PLANT
April 4 PROPOSALS for a new £50 million malt whisky distillery have been unveiled by drinks giant Diageo, which has preferred the Easter Ross peninsula to the traditional malt whisky country of Speyside for its new plant. It announced Teaninich, near Alness, as the location for its distillery which, if approved, will have the capacity to produce around 13 million litres of spirit per annum from 16 copper stills, or 45 million normal-sized bottles a year.
WHISKY SALES FALL BUT VALUE OF EXPORTS HITS NEW HIGH
April 3 SCOTCH whisky exports edged up by 1% to a record £4.27 billion in 2012, in spite of a 5% fall in the number of bottles sold, industry figures show. This marginal growth in the value of exports in 2012, revealed in figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) industry body, contrasted with a 23% leap in overseas sales in 2011. However, SWA figures in October had shown Scotch whisky exports in the first half of last year were down £12 million on the same period of 2011, at £1.786bn, so the very slight rise in the value of the sector’s overseas sales over 2012 as a whole came as no surprise.
PAY-OUTS FOR CUSTOMERS AFTER BANK FEES BLUNDER
April 1 BANK of Scotland is paying out substantial compensation to customers after it failed to notify them properly of a 33% hike in the cost of its flagship fee-paying account. Customers with its Ultimate Reward account for their main banking are getting about £56 each in compensation and lost interest after the bank admitted it failed to warn them properly that the monthly fee was rising from £7.50 to £10.
£10.6M PROFITS ON HORIZON AT IOMART
March 27 SCOTTISH cloudcomputing specialist Iomart Group expects to post underlying pre-tax profits of about £10.6 million for the year to March 31, up from £6.9m in the prior 12 months and ahead of the consensus market forecast. And it has declared it is “very confident” of further growth in coming financial years. The board of Iomart said the company had achieved a “very strong set of results” in its latest financial year.
£3.5BN RISE IN NET INFLOWS AT ABERDEEN
March 26 SHARES in Aberdeen Asset Management soared by as much as 6.8% after it revealed it received £3.5 billion in net inflows in two months. But the group warned investors that it expects the growth of assets to slow as it seeks to stop its emerging markets portfolios from being swamped. Assets under management at Aberdeen rose 9.8% from £193.4bn at December 31 to £212.3bn as of February 28.
OSBORNE BETS HOUSE ON £130billion PROPERTY GAMBLE
March 21 GEORGE Osborne has staked the UK’s recovery on a £130 billion mortgage gamble as he attempts to kickstart the economy by helping people on to the housing ladder. Yet populist moves to cut taxes for businesses, drinkers and drivers failed to mask the grim economic backdrop of lower growth and rising debt. Osborne insisted his budget was targeted at “people who aspire to work hard and get on”.
Former HBOS chief James Crosby offered to give up his knighthood
Site operations manager Kirsty Dagnan at Diageo’s Allness plant
Sir Richard Branson said new air routes will not alter East Coast bid