WELCOME to scotsman.com’s Scottish Business Briefing. Every morning we bring you a comprehensive round-up of all news affecting business in Scotland today.
Bank losses raise doubts over Co-op branches deal
The mutual group, which sealed a deal on Tuesday to sell its fund management and life insurance businesses to Royal London for £219m, also unveiled plans to offload its general insurance arm to strengthen its balance sheet.It is understood that the Financial Services Authority is concerned over the capital strength of the Co-op (Scotsman).
The Economics of Independence 2013
This conference tackles the crucial issues facing business and industry in the Scottish independence debate. Join expert speakers Alistair Darling MP, Jim McColl (Clyde Blowers) and Rupert Soames (Aggreko). 20% early bird discount until 31 March.
ENERGY & UTILITIES
Britain’s lights could go out, warn power companies
SCOTLAND’S two power giants yesterday voiced fears of looming blackouts and said the UK government urgently needed to provide confidence to invest in new generating stations. SSE, the Perth-based utility behind Scottish Hydro, said it was to shut a quarter of its thermal generating capacity, including coal- and gas-fired plants, over the coming year, with chief executive Ian Marchant warning: “There is a very real risk of the lights going out” (Scotsman)
Smart Metering Systems powers to profits surge
SMART Metering Systems, whose devices help consumers and businesses cut utility bills and improve energy efficiency, has powered to a 62% profits rise. The AIM-listed Glasgow business, which floated two years ago, has reported pre-tax profits of £6.5 million in the year to December 31, 2012, up from 2011’s £4m (Herald).
FOOD, DRINK & AGRICULTURE
Whisky producer Diageo to axe 80 Scottish jobs
ONE of Scotland’s biggest whisky producers Diageo is to axe 80 staff at its sites across the country. The cuts, mainly of managerial positions, will be made across the company’s 50 sites in Scotland and are being made “to boost competitiveness”. They follow a procurement review of its Scottish manufacturing operations (Scotsman).
Gael Force buys Varis as £50m expansion looms
Marine services firm Gael Force has unveiled “ambitious” expansion plans after snapping up fellow fabricator Varis Engineering as it looks to grow its turnover five-fold to £50 million. Inverness-based Gael Force, which was founded by Stewart Graham in Stornoway in 1985 as a creel-making company, plans to create further jobs as it adds to Forres-based Varis’ 30 staff (Scotsman).
Allied Vehicles reports strongest February sales ever
ALLIED Vehicles, the Glasgow-based maker of taxis and wheelchair-accessible cars, has reported the strongest February sales in the company’s 20-year history. The firm, which employs 371 staff at its Possilpark plant, sold 487 vehicles. The tally was one of its highest ever monthly sales returns and just 15 short of the record 502 it sold in August 2007 (Scotsman).