Here are five of today’s key business stories in one handy package.
Clydesdale Bank’s Australian parent said the lender could be valued at almost £2.1 billion in next month’s flotation. National Australia Bank has priced shares in the Glasgow-based group at between 175p and 235p ahead of its initial public offering, with trading on the London market set to begin on 2 February.
Home Retail Group agreed to sell its home improvements business to an Australian rival for £340 million. The retailer, which also owns the Argos chain of catalogue shops and is facing a possible takeover bid from supermarket group Sainsbury’s, said the sale of Homebase to Wesfarmers would trigger a £200m windfall for shareholders.
Small business confidence levels north of the Border sank to a three-year low, according to a report that also raised wider concerns over a north-south economic divide. The study by the Federation of Small Businesses showed a widening gap between Scottish business growth expectations and the UK average, with only a slim majority of firms in Scotland expecting prospects to improve.
Scotland was the only part of the UK to report a rise in the number of shoppers visiting retailers last month, although it was a marginal annual increase of just 0.2 per cent. Experts said the growth – revealed by the Scottish Retail Consortium and Springboard – was a “welcome relief” after declining figures over the past seven months.
Dundee-based Highland Game won a £500,000 deal to supply Aldi’s stores in Scotland with a new range of wild venison products, including burgers, meatballs and steaks. Meanwhile, Asda awarded Greenock-based haggis maker McKechnie Jess an exclusive deal worth £60,000 to supply spicy and curry variations of Scotland’s national dish.