In­fra­struc­ture is top of agenda, says Drake­ford

Western Mail - - BUSINESS - Sion Barry Business ed­i­tor sion.barry@waleson­

In­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment re­mains a key pri­or­ity of the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, which will con­tinue to press the case for busi­nesses hav­ing full ac­cess to the EU sin­gle mar­ket, Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Mark Drake­ford told the CBI Wales an­nual din­ner last night.

Speak­ing at City Hall in Cardiff to a business au­di­ence, Mr Drake­ford said that from the be­gin­ning of the Brexit process the Welsh Gov­ern­ment had con­sis­tently ar­gued that the needs of the econ­omy should be the core con­sid­er­a­tion in the UK’s ap­proach to the chal­lenge of leav­ing the EU.

He added: “In par­tic­u­lar, we have ar­gued for con­tin­ued full ac­cess to the EU sin­gle mar­ket, ro­bust tran­si­tional ar­range­ments, re­ten­tion of the Euro­pean so­cial model and con­tin­u­a­tion of our par­tic­i­pa­tion in a range of EU pro­grammes post-Brexit, such as Hori­zon 2020 and Eras­mus+.”

He added: “The Welsh Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to pri­ori­tise in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture and our business-friendly poli­cies cre­ate the right con­di­tions to sup­port the econ­omy and at­tract new in­vest­ments to Wales.

“Over the last year we sup­ported 85 new in­ward in­vest­ment projects in Wales with the po­ten­tial to cre­ate or safe­guard more than 11,000 jobs. Wales se­cured 11% of the to­tal jobs as­so­ci­ated with in­ward in­vest­ment projects across the UK.

“Wales is go­ing through a pe­riod of ma­jor eco­nomic change and I am pleased that the Welsh Gov­ern­ment can sup­port busi­nesses through these chang­ing times.”

Also ad­dress­ing the din­ner, UK Gov­ern­ment Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Bran­don Lewis told Welsh business lead­ers that their views will play a “vi­tal role” in the de­ci­sions his Gov­ern­ment makes about the fu­ture im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.

And he called on busi­nesses to con­tinue a di­a­logue to en­sure the right bal­ance is struck “be­tween keep­ing our fu­ture im­mi­gra­tion ar­range­ments in the na­tional in­ter­est, and en­sur­ing the UK re­mains open to the tal­ent we need from Europe and the rest of the world”.

He also recog­nised the con­tri­bu­tion that the 79,000 EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in Wales make to the econ­omy and Welsh so­ci­ety, and said the UK Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to wel­come those with the skills and ex­per­tise to sup­port Welsh busi­nesses and in­dus­tries.

Mr Lewis added that the UK Gov­ern­ment has been clear that its top pri­or­ity is se­cur­ing the sta­tus of those EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK and Wales, and UK na­tion­als liv­ing in the EU.

Mr Lewis added: “We want to build an im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem where we have con­trol of our bor­ders and which de­liv­ers for our in­dus­tries and our econ­omy.

“It is vi­tal that we work with busi­nesses un­der the shared am­bi­tion of se­cur­ing the best pos­si­ble out­come for Welsh busi­nesses, in­dus­try and com­mu­ni­ties.” BRI­TAIN’S bet­ting gi­ants en­joyed a win­ning streak yes­ter­day af­ter Lad­brokes Coral re­vived takeover talks with the owner of on­line ri­val Foxy Bingo.

Lad­brokes Coral soared 29% on the sec­ond tier, or 39.4p to 175.1p, af­ter the pair re­vealed “de­tailed” dis­cus­sions over a tie-up that would see GVC pay £3.1bn in cash and shares for the com­pany.

GVC was also up 45.5p to 954.5p, as the two firms said the fi­nal price could reach £3.9 bil­lion de­pend­ing on the out­come of a gov­ern­ment re­view into con­tro­ver­sial fixed-odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals (FOBTs).

Wil­liam Hill was also hav­ing a strong ses­sion on the FTSE 250 af­ter it reached an agree­ment with US firm Sci­en­tific Games over a planned takeover of bet­ting and gam­ing com­pany NYX. Shares lifted 23.6p to 315p How­ever, the FTSE 100 In­dex closed down 27.28 points at 7,320.75 as in­sur­ance and min­ing stocks dragged on the top flight.

Shares in Rio Tinto dropped 58p to 3,440.5p, while An­glo Amer­i­can slipped 9.5p to 1,343p.

In UK stocks, Sky shares rose 9p to 997p as ru­mours in­ten­si­fied that 21st Cen­tury Fox is edg­ing closer to­wards a deal that could see Dis­ney buy a sig­nif­i­cant slice of its me­dia em­pire, which would in­clude its 39% stake in Sky.

Fox-owner Ru­pert Mur­doch and his fam­ily are re­port­edly favour­ing a trans­ac­tion with Dis­ney over Com­cast be­cause reg­u­la­tors would be more likely to clear the deal and they would rather be paid in Dis­ney stock, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

Le­gal & Gen­eral group fell 1.8p to 259.9p de­spite re­port­ing that it is on course for a record year of prof­its, driven by what it called “for­mi­da­ble mo­men­tum” in its core business di­vi­sions.

The group pointed to areas such as its re­tire­ment unit, which has de­liv­ered to­tal sales of £6.2bn in the year to date, thanks to strong per­for­mances in the UK and US pen­sion mar­kets.

The big­gest risers on the FTSE 100 were Pear­son up 16p at 737p, BT Group up 5.6p at 262.8p, Medi­clinic In­ter­na­tional up 8.5p at 590.5p, and Voda­fone Group up 3.1p at 227.9p.

The big­gest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Bab­cock In­ter­na­tional Group down 23.5p at 654.5p, Ad­mi­ral Group down 49p at 1,844p, As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods down 68p at 2,852p, and Di­rect Line In­sur­ance Group down 7.9p at 357.1p.

Rob Browne

> Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Mark Drake­ford

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