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Business news in brief: Travelodge | Eland | Caterpillar

BUDGET hotel chain Travelodge is to create 420 jobs by opening 14 hotels across the UK and Spain this year.

The company said it was investing £223 million before the end of 2013, creating 370 jobs in cities including Cambridge, Liverpool, London and Manchester, and other positions in Barcelona and Madrid.

Around 30 places will be offered to unemployed youngsters on Travelodge’s junior management programme. Chief executive Grant Hearn said the capital expenditure would help grow the business.

Griffiths cuts stake in oil explorer Eland

City financier Richard Griffiths has sold almost 400,000 shares in Eland Oil & Gas, the Africa-focused explorer than floated on the Alternative Investment Market last year.

Griffiths, who founded investment bank Evolution in 2000 before setting up boutique investment firm ORA Capital Partners in 2005, had a 10.1 per cent stake in Aberdeen-based Eland following its flotation in September. The firm, which expects to produce 2,500 barrels of oil a day from its Nigerian onshore licence by the end of March, said he has now reduced his stake to 9.76 per cent.

Scots firms shrug off recession fears

Almost a quarter of Scottish firms plan to take on more staff this year, according to a survey which flies in the faces of concerns that the UK economy could be heading towards a triple-dip recession.

Invoice finance specialist Bibby Financial Services said 20 per cent of companies will also invest in new equipment.

The economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.3 per cent in the final three months of 2012 – raising fears of another recession – but 37 per cent of firms surveyed reported that levels of trade were unchanged from the previous quarter.

Writedown at China arm hits Cat profits

Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction equipment, has seen its fourth-quarter profits more than halve following weak demand and a writedown in the value of a Chinese mining equipment supplier it bought last year.

The Illinois-based firm posted a profit of $697 million (£443m) for the fourth quarter, down from $1.5 billion a year earlier, after taking a $580m hit relating to accounting irregularities at ERA Mining Machinery’s Siwei subsidiary. Revenues fell 7 per cent to $16bn as the slowing global economy hit sales of its bulldozers and other machines.

 

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