Bad debt decline boosts bank
DROP IN BAD DEBTS GIVES CLYDESDALE BANK A LIFT
Feb 8 CLYDESDALE Bank is enjoying an improved financial performance as bad debt levels decline and job numbers continue to fall, its parent National Australia Bank (NAB) has reported. Meanwhile, Clydesdale’s pension fund has sold the bank’s Glasgow headquarters to a London-based investor although the group will continue to occupy the building on St Vincent Place. Clydesdale is retrenching into its heartlands in Scotland and the north of England, where it operates Yorkshire Bank, after being hit hard by the collapse of the commercial property market.
SSE TO SELL WIND FARM INTERESTS FOR £140M
Feb 4 PERTH- BASED power company SSE has agreed to sell wind-farm interests in Scotland and Northern Ireland for £140 million to a new fund that plans to float on the London Stock Exchange. The proposed sale is dependent on a successful listing and fundraising by wind-farm investment fund Greencoat UK Wind. SSE will invest up to £43m of its sale proceeds in this new fund. SSE’s investment will be scaled back if Greencoat UK Wind’s fundraising is over-subscribed
RBS CHIEF LOSES JOB AND £4M BONUS OVER LIBOR
Feb 6 A SENIOR executive at Royal Bank of Scotland is to step down and forfeit about £4 million in bonuses over the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal. John Hourican, 41, head of RBS’s troubled investment banking division since 2008 will also relinquish share options as he exits the Edinburgh-based banking group over the row.
CENTRICA ABANDONS PLAN FOR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Feb 5 SCOTTISH Gas owner Centrica has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the UK with Electricite de France, raising serious doubts over the programme. Centrica follows Perth-based SSE and Germany’s RWE and E.ON in withdrawing from newbuild nuclear, although ScottishPower owner Iberdrola is evaluating plans for a power plant in Cumbria.
SKYSCANNER PROFITS SURGE AMID US PLAN
Feb 4 TRAVEL search site Skyscanner has reported a 65% hike in revenue to £33.5 million and unveiled plans to set up a permanent base in the United States. The Edinburgh company said earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation in 2012 jumped 153% to £12m as its annual traffic rose 84%, with more than 30 million visitors each month. Travel bookings for its airline partners were at £2.3 billion across the 12 months.
GROWTH BOOST FOR SCOTTISH ECONOMY
Feb 2 THE Scottish economy grew by 0.6% in the third quarter of last year, as manufacturing output surged, but it was unable to emulate expansion of 0.9% in the UK as a whole during this period. Economists highlighted the fact that Scotland would have received much less of a boost from the London 2012 Olympics than other parts of the UK. However, they cited potential for Scotland to have outperformed the UK as a whole in the fourth quarter of last year, given the relative lack of an Olympics boost north of the border in the three months to September.
INSOLVENCY RATES CLOSE TO RECORD
Jan 31 AROUND 25 companies went bust every week in Scotland on the official measure last year, when the level of failures remained close to the record set in 2011. Figures compiled by the Accountant in Bankruptcy show 1264 companies failed in 2012 as the economic downturn took a heavy toll on sectors such as retail, hospitality and construction. The total number of firms recorded in the register of insolvencies last year was down just 1% on the record 1278 seen in 2011.
BREWDOG GOES GLOBAL AS BAR EMPIRE EXPANDS
Jan 29 SCOTTISH beer company BrewDog is preparing to extend its burgeoning bar empire into locations including Belgium, Brazil and Japan to reap the benefits of its new beefed-up brewery. The company will kick off its overseas drive with the opening of a bar in Stockholm, Sweden in March, with another launching in Sao Paolo in Brazil in June, and a third in Brussels in September. It also has plans to open up a bar in Tokyo.
BARRHEAD TRAVEL EYES AUSTRALIAN VENTURE
Jan 28 AMBITIOUS Barrhead Travel is casting an eye towards the other side of the world as part of its expansion strategy. Directors at the fast-growing travel agency are mulling over the possibility of acquiring a business in Australia to set up a “bricks and mortar” operation in the country. The Glasgow company already has a site in Leipzig, Germany after extensive market research suggested its services would be profitable there. That level of diligence is behind the preference for Australia as its next global stop.
AG BARR TOASTS FORECAST OF 7% JUMP IN REVENUES
Jan 25 IRN-BRU manufacturer AG Barr is predicting a 7% jump in fullyear revenues to about £253 million, after another marketbeating performance in its final quarter. AG Barr’s shares surged 26.5p or 5.1% to 546.5p – increasing its stock market worth by about £31m to £638m – on the back of its upbeat trading update yesterday. It highlights the strong position from which the Lanarkshire-based company is going into its planned merger with Hertfordshire-based rival Britvic.
EXPORT FIGURES PROVIDE RAY OF SUNSHINE TO BUSINESSES
Jan 24 SCOTLAND’S international exports totalled about £23.9 billion in 2011, up £1.6bn or 7% on 2010, figures show. The Scottish Government’s latest Global Connections Survey shows manufacturing exports rose by £1.1bn to £14.7bn in 2011, and accounted for 61% of the total. Services exports rose by £280 million to £7.69bn. The figures, which exclude oil and gas, are not adjusted for inflation.
Clydesdale chief executive David Thorburn reports progress after strategic review James Watt and Martin Dickie of Brewdog are extending bar empire Gareth Edwards reported a hike in Skyscanner revenue of 65%