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.
BANKING AND INSURANCE
£1 billion Esure flotation ‘in weeks’, says Wood
INSURANCE tycoon Peter Wood is targeting a £1 billion price tag after unveiling plans to float his Esure venture on the London Stock Exchange within weeks. The home and motor insurance group, which employs more than 800 people at its main customer-facing operations base in Glasgow, will clear its debts with £50 million of new share capital while its owners will sell up to half their stake in an initial IPO expected to complete before the end of March (Scotsman).
RBS announce £5.2bn pre-tax losses
Royal Bank of Scotland racked up losses of £5.2 billion in 2012 – the equivalent of £100 million every week. The state-owned bank blamed the pre-tax loss on one-off expenses such as fines, and claimed it had made an operating profit of £3.5bn.(Scotsman).
ENERGY & UTILITIES
Centrica profits boosted by oil and gas production
INCREASING returns from oil and gas production helped Scottish Gas owner Centrica post a 14 per cent rise in operating profits following last year’s record £2 billion investment in North Sea and other assets further afield. The UK’s biggest energy retailer by customer numbers also benefited from colder winter weather, which pushed domestic gas consumption up by 12 per cent (Scotsman).
Weir Group boss calls for faster entry to shale market
WEIR Group chief executive Keith Cochrane is calling for Britain to speed up its entry into the shale gas industry to help the country become more self-sufficient in meeting its power requirements. The head of the Glasgow-based engineering giant said that the UK could grow its shale gas sector “much more quickly than people currently think” because it has the right technical infrastructure in place to start harnessing gas trapped between rocks under the earth (Scotsman)
FOOD, DRINK & AGRICULTURE
Arran Brewery boss hits out at lack of grant support
ARRAN Brewery owner Gerald Michaluk has “slammed the brakes” on plans to expand on the island and open a bottling plant in Falkirk after enterprise minister Fergus Ewing rejected a £1 million grant application. Michaluk planned to create ten jobs on Arran as a result of the expansion and a further 67 at a bottling plant in the former Rosebank distillery in Falkirk (Scotsman).
Pound shops prosper as chains close 20 shops a day
RETAIL chains are closing stores at a rate of 20 a day across the UK, according to research into the way the high street is changing. Analysts say the picture in Scotland is slightly brighter, with only one shop closure a day. But the number of shops is contracting and the number of new businesses opening continues to fall (Scotsman).