Friday business round-up: Five key stories of the day

Standard Life said investors stand to benefit from a dividend hike. Picture: Neil Hanna

Standard Life said investors stand to benefit from a dividend hike. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Here are five of today’s key business stories in one handy package.

Paying dividends

Pensions giant Standard Life announced a 7.8 per cent rise in its full-year dividend after delivering higher earnings. The Edinburgh-based group said pre-tax operating profits for 2015 grew 9 per cent to £665 million, while assets under administration were up 4 per cent to £307.4 billion despite “volatile” market conditions. Shareholders are in line for a final dividend of 12.34p a share, giving a total for the year of 18.36p.

Advice windfall

Financial advisers are set to benefit from a “windfall” sparked by recent pension reforms, according to the chief executive of insurer Aegon UK. Adrian Grace said the industry has witnessed a “pension perfect storm” as a result of freedoms ushered in by Chancellor George Osborne, allowing those aged over 55 to take their entire pension pot as a cash lump sum. His comments came as the Edinburgh-based firm reported a 17 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax earnings to £19m for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Skyscanner soars

Travel search engine Skyscanner, recently valued at more than £1bn, delivered its seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth. The Edinburgh-based firm, which employs 770 people across ten global offices, said revenues grew to £120m during the 12 months to the end of December, an increase of 28 per cent compared with 2014.

Tech jobs plea

Scotland’s digital tech sector could generate 70,000 additional jobs over the coming five years if the next Scottish Government helps it fulfil its potential, according to the chief executive of trade body ScotlandIS. Commenting as the organisation launched its pre-­election manifesto, outlining the need to foster growth in the “invisible industry that is changing the world”, Polly Purvis said the country must ­harness the potential of the burgeoning “information ­revolution”.

Booze clampdown

A code of conduct to ensure proper behaviour in the members’ area, self-­regulation of “kist parties” and a ban on carrying or consuming alcohol around the showground are among a series of measures being introduced to curb drink-related anti-social behaviour at the Royal Highland Show. The moves are being taken to address a growing number of incidents stemming from the over-consumption of alcohol in recent years – which last year culminated in bar closures and police involvement.

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