{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"business","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/current-1-coins-won-t-be-worthless-in-october-treasury-reassures-public-1-4370818","id":"1.4370818","articleHeadline": "Current £1 coins won't be worthless in October, Treasury reassures public","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487517204359 ,"articleLead": "The current £1 coin will not become worthless after it is replaced and ceases to be legal tender in October, the Treasury clarified today.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370817.1487517288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new 1 is claimed to be the most secure coin in the world. Picture: Royal Mint"} ,"articleBody": "

It follows Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke being reported by the Financial Times yesterday as saying: “You have until autumn to spend your round pounds or exchange them for the edgy, new version at your bank.”

In fact, people will be able to exchange the current coins for the new ones at most banks after they can no longer be used as money.

The Royal Bank of Scotland said today there would be no time limit on its customers being able to pay in the old coins.

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes the Bank of Scotland, said it would also continue to exchange old coins for new ones for its customers.

A new 12-sided £1 coin will be introduced on 28 March because the current one is among the most commonly faked currency.

The Royal Mint said it is the most secure coin in the world.

New security features include a hologram-like image that changes from a "£" symbol to the number "1" when the coin is seen from different angles.

It also has micro-lettering and milled edges.

The Treasury estimates there are 433 million £1 coins in people's pockets and homes.

A Treasury spokesman said: “If you have a round £1 coin, you are encouraged to spend it before 15 October.

“After that, you can still exchange your old coins at most high street banks and, for those who do, the Royal Mint recommends that people consult their bank directly.”

Advice from the Royal Mint states: "Following de-monetisation, the current round £1 coin can continue to be deposited into a customer’s account, either business or personal, at most high street banks including RBS, NatWest, Ulster, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, Santander, Nationwide, Clydesdale, Yorkshire Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and The Post Office.

"It may be possible to exchange £1 coins at these banks and the Post Office provided you hold an account with them.

"Specific arrangements may vary from bank to bank, including deposit limits."

" ,"byline": {"email": "alastair.dalton@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Alastair Dalton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370817.1487517288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370817.1487517288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The new 1 is claimed to be the most secure coin in the world. Picture: Royal Mint","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new 1 is claimed to be the most secure coin in the world. Picture: Royal Mint","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370817.1487517288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/retired-cod-wars-trawler-converted-into-ben-nevis-bnb-1-4370953","id":"1.4370953","articleHeadline": "Retired Cod Wars trawler converted into Ben Nevis BnB","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487533270000 ,"articleLead": "

A retired trawler from the Cod Wars has staked a claim to having one of the most beautiful British locations on Airbnb.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370952.1487533250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A retired trawler from the Cod Wars has staked a claim to having one of the most beautiful British locations on Airbnb. Picture: DeadlineNews."} ,"articleBody": "

Stunning pictures on the short-term rental site show the Orlik berthed in the shadows of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

The boat, which fished fiercely-contested seas off Iceland from the 1950s to the 1970s, is now £120-a-night accommodation for up to four on the Caledonian Canal.

The Orlik is berthed at Neptune’s Staircase – the longest staircase lock in the UK, just four miles from the majestic 4,413ft peak.

The lock leads into Loch Linnhe and the open seas beyond and, for £2,900, two passengers can enjoy a six-night cruise.

The vessel was built in Denmark in 1950 and worked out of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, until the 1990s.

Owners Michael and Lorna Watt spent £300,000 converting her into beautiful accommodation.

Mr Watt, 63, said: “The Orlik was part of the 750-strong fleet of fishing boats working out of Grimsby during the 1950s until the 1970s.

“We spent around £300,000 converting it. We put in two double cabins, two shower rooms/toilets, and a sauna.”

“They’re incredibly rare boats now, I reckon there can’t be more than around 50 left in the UK. They’re brilliant boats, it can go on for another 100 years.”

He added: “Because it’s a smaller boat, it would fish off the coast of Iceland during the summer months during the cod war years.

“Boats were at constant risk of having their gear cut away by Icelandic ships.”

Today’s guests stay in one of two luxury double cabins, each with its own private shower room and toilet, and a cozy two person sauna is available for those who want to chill out and relax.

The cod wars were a series of disputes between Britain and Iceland running from the 1950s to the 1970s over the rights to fish in Icelandic waters.

At the peak of the dispute the Royal Navy was deployed to protect the British fishing fleet.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370952.1487533250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370952.1487533250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A retired trawler from the Cod Wars has staked a claim to having one of the most beautiful British locations on Airbnb. Picture: DeadlineNews.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A retired trawler from the Cod Wars has staked a claim to having one of the most beautiful British locations on Airbnb. Picture: DeadlineNews.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370952.1487533250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/supermarket-recalls-beef-product-over-listeria-fears-1-4370900","id":"1.4370900","articleHeadline": "Supermarket recalls beef product over listeria fears","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487527511000 ,"articleLead": "

Supermarket Morrisons has recalled one of its meat-based products over concerns it may cause flu-like symptoms among vulnerable people.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370899.1487527490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrisons store. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The retailer has asked customers who bought its 150g Ready to Eat Peppered Beef Slices to return them, after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said they are contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.

The product has a use-by date of February 21 2017

Symptoms caused by the bug can be similar to flu and include a high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.

In rare cases the infection can be more severe, causing serious complications such as meningitis.

Some people are more vulnerable to listeria infections, including those over 65 years old, pregnant women and their unborn babies, babies less than one month old and people with weakened immune systems.

The company has provided point-of-sale notices to all stores and market stalls that were supplied with the contaminated product.

The FSA said: “If you have bought the above product, do not eat it. Instead, return it to the store from where it was bought for a full refund.”

No other Morrisons products are involved.

A Morrisons spokesman said: “Our routine testing has identified the presence of low levels of Listeria in this product.

“We are asking all customers who have bought this use by date of this product not to consume it and to return it to their nearest Morrisons store where they will receive a full refund.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370899.1487527490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370899.1487527490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Morrisons store. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrisons store. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370899.1487527490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/animation-outfit-di4d-secures-900-000-funding-boost-1-4369625","id":"1.4369625","articleHeadline": "Animation outfit DI4D secures £900,000 funding boost","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487491200000 ,"articleLead": "

A Glasgow animation studio is set to ramp up its presence in Hollywood after securing a £900,000 funding boost.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369623.1487342301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "DI4D worked on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. Picture: Warner Bros"} ,"articleBody": "

University spin-out Dimensional Imaging (DI4D), headquartered in Hillington, specialises in facial animation and counts movie blockbusters such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and hit games including Microsoft’s Quantum Break among its credits.

It has also worked with Glasgow’s Dental Hospital & School and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to assess the results of surgery using its motion capture technology.

The firm, formed in 2003 as a spin-out from the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, received the cash injection from existing shareholders and Percipient Capital, a London-based provider of private equity and venture capital for SMEs.

READ MORE: Ex-Grand Theft Auto supremo leads Krotos funding deal

Speaking exclusively to Scotland on Sunday, chief executive and co-founder Colin Urquhart said: “We see that our biggest potential market is in the US and we’ve already started to do significant business there. We’ve managed to get ourselves to the forefront of facial performance capture, but it’s a competitive market so we need to keep investing in R&D.

“The majority of the projects that we’re doing just now and in the future are likely to be in North America so expanding our presence there is also at the centre of our plans.”

DI4D employs nine people and Urquhart said he planned to expand its headcount in Glasgow, where all its development and operations teams are based, but he is also looking to open an office in Los Angeles as its workload grows.

Percipient Capital director Jason Gould said: “We have been very impressed by the excellent progress made by DI4D, and in particular its recent work on several high-profile movies, visual effects and video game projects, and we are pleased to be able to assist the company as it enters a new phase of accelerated growth.

“We look forward to working closely with Tim and the DI4D team and to providing further assistance in future as required.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

The firm is currently involved in a number of other major film projects, the names of which are under wraps for the time being, and Urquhart will be jetting out to San Francisco at the end of the month for the annual Game Developers Conference, the largest event of its kind for the gaming sector, attracting more than 27,000 attendees from around the globe.

As well as seeking to win more work on large-scale video game projects the company is examining opportunities in the rapidly developing field of virtual reality.

DI4D chairman Tim Christian said the funding boost will give the team “financial strength and confidence to scale up significantly, invest further in the development of our already highly advanced facial capture technology and to expand our operations”.

He added: This is an exceptional time of opportunity in the facial animation market, and we expect that this investment will ensure that DI4D is well placed to seize this and other opportunities.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369623.1487342301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369623.1487342301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "DI4D worked on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. Picture: Warner Bros","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "DI4D worked on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. Picture: Warner Bros","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369623.1487342301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369624.1487342304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369624.1487342304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "From left: DI4D chairman Tim Christian, chief executive Colin Urquhart and Percipient director Jason Gould. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From left: DI4D chairman Tim Christian, chief executive Colin Urquhart and Percipient director Jason Gould. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369624.1487342304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/media-leisure/the-big-interview-christina-jansen-the-scottish-gallery-1-4370421","id":"1.4370421","articleHeadline": "The Big Interview: Christina Jansen, The Scottish Gallery","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487460595000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s been said that the art of life “lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370420.1487441135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christina Jansen stands in front of a painting by Geoff Uglow, whose works are on display at the gallery. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

And so too, it seems, is the business of art. The Scottish Gallery, located on Edinburgh’s Dundas Street, has been trading since 1842 because of its very ability to adapt, according to managing director Christina Jansen.

She says its title is well deserved as it is older than the National Galleries of Scotland, which first opened in 1859 – indeed it is the oldest privately owned gallery in the UK.

“We feel lucky that we’re still here,” says Jansen, acknowledging the cultural upheaval in Scotland in the intervening years. “It’s a business that has constantly undergone change to survive the times, so being here for 175 years is a testament to that. We don’t take it for granted because things can change at the drop of a hat.”

Art is certainly an unpredictable field in which to operate; dependent not just on profit and loss but on an emotional transaction between the buyer, regardless of budget, and the artist.

It isn’t just an artwork that’s for sale, “it’s a person, it’s a way of life, it’s a part of history and so on,” Jansen believes. The gallery focuses on contemporary and historical artists, and operates on an “ideas first, business second” basis, she adds.

“Art is our business – but it’s very, very complex. People come to us for all sorts of different reasons and you buy things sometimes very specifically because you’re a big follower of an artist.

“And other times it’s totally by accident because you came in to see an exhibition and then you got totally distracted by something else that happened to be in the gallery.”

The company is registered as Aitken Dott, harking back to its origins. It was established in South St David Street by Aitken Dott as Gilders, Framers, and Artists’ Colourmen, also exhibiting and selling work by Scotland’s top contemporary artists. As its operations grew, a larger site was found in Castle Street in 1860 and a dedicated gallery space opened up in 1897 as The Scottish Gallery.

It has been on Dundas Street since 1992, specialising in national and international ceramics, glass, jewellery, metalwork, sculpture and sometimes textiles.

Jansen describes art as “a very bizarre area to work in”, adding that The Scottish Gallery “can make calculated risks based on experience, but art is 100 per cent risk so you don’t know any month whether it’s going to be successful or not. You have to have a foundation in place for everything that you do… It’s a brutal business and you can’t get it wrong.”

None the less, the gallery has made a profit every year since 1994, with the exception of 2010. In the past financial year, it sold goods worth £2.3 million, bringing in revenues of £1.3m and enabling it to make a pre-tax profit of £165,000, which led to a £47,300 dividend for its 29 shareholders.

In terms of the bottom line, “everything we do makes a contribution”, according to Jansen. “We work really hard. There’s no safety net for us so that actually affects all the decisions that you make.”

She stresses that the gallery is susceptible to broader economic turbulence, and when the financial crisis hit in 2008, “everything changed”.

That certainly posed challenges, but then so does the current economic outlook, in her view. “You have to take that on board and not live in a fantasy world that it’s all going to be plain sailing, but you’ve still got to be dynamic and take a lot of risks during hard times.

“[There have been] times when it’s been difficult for everyone and we’ve pulled through. We’re not in that position at the moment. You have to be knowledgeable about the indicators and what’s going on out there and what might be appropriate at different times.”

The strategy must keep changing, “but one thing that’s true is showing quality artists and staying true to certain values. That’s kind of worked for us so far.”

Yet despite macroeconomic uncertainties, there are signs that 2017 “may actually be a very stable, nice year” for the global art market, in the opinion of Doug Woodham, former Christie’s president of the Americas.

He was commenting in this year’s ArtTactic Global Art Market Outlook, released earlier this month.

It surveyed 182 art world participants, including collectors, advisers, dealers, and auction house professionals and found that about 60 per cent saw the global outlook for this year as positive, after what was deemed a very troubled 2016. The figure was up from 41 per cent a year previously and just 8 per cent said their expectations were negative for 2017.

Woodham was quoted as saying that people “need to feel comfortable with their wealth position to buy art”.

The Barclays UK Prosperity Map published in August reported that Scotland’s household wealth grew the fastest in the UK since its 2015 study, rising 13 per cent and outstripping London and the South East.

However, the number of millionaires north of the border fell by 10.4 per cent 
to 43,000, in line with the wider UK trend.

The Scottish Gallery’s outlook and profitability inevitably depend on its success at bringing in new customers. This is why it tries its utmost to make the gallery space itself welcoming and to instil the trust of its clients, Jansen says. “Other things come and go, but you can have faith in us as a brand — that’s what people buy into and we really believe in quality.”

It faces the same pressures as other retail environments. “You’ve got to be relevant, so that’s what we’re fighting for. Some people come in almost daily, others every couple of months, and we try and create a really interesting environment.”

And as in other forms of retail, e-commerce has become an increasingly important part of the gallery’s operations. Jansen has driven its embrace of the digital world, “determined to modernise the gallery both physically and also in terms of print and technology.

“I’m very mindful of our contemporary programme, which has to reflect current talent whilst holding on to our wonderful history.”

Born to a Glaswegian mother and German father, from Berlin, Jansen’s first degree was in industrial design at Manchester Metropolitan University.

“That was really hard. All our projects were live because you’d have to be trained so quickly for industry,” she says, noting that getting a drawing wrong by “a fraction of a millimetre” could cost £150,000.

She also did a postgraduate course in decorative arts at the University of Glasgow, and says her two degree subjects are an unusual combination that has “served me so well. I’m both creative and mechanical – that’s been very useful”.

At Manchester Jansen was told that because she was a woman, “it was not possible for me to think in three dimensions – which motivated me to learn to do so. Whilst I loved my course at Glasgow, it was my first degree that has been the most valuable in terms of how to think and practical skills.”

Her CV includes a spell in London, working for the Crafts Council within the renowned Victoria & Albert Museum, which is set to open its Dundee arm in 2018. It was this experience that led to The Scottish Gallery.

“The objects here are really quite special and my previous director couldn’t find someone to take her position for two years that had enough specific knowledge, because there really wasn’t anyone in Scotland at that time,” she explains.

“I got a phone call through a recommendation. It was good timing and luck, and just having a little bit of knowledge in an area that was very important to the gallery. You couldn’t just have it babysat by anyone.”

At present the gallery has five full-time staff and an “army” of part-time workers. “We’re really quite a small, specialist team,” says Jansen.

Looking ahead, she stresses that the gallery doesn’t have a “magic formula”, and admits some nervousness over signs that others in the field are feeling the pressure.

But she adds: “We’re always just trying to do our best for the artist, and if we’ve done well for them, we’re successful, we’re making a profit – but it’s such a strange business.”

Rather than focusing on spreadsheets, its attention is on elements such as having the right artists and managing events staff. “If we’ve got all those things in check and in balance then we’ve got a business that’s doing well.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370420.1487441135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370420.1487441135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christina Jansen stands in front of a painting by Geoff Uglow, whose works are on display at the gallery. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christina Jansen stands in front of a painting by Geoff Uglow, whose works are on display at the gallery. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370420.1487441135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/martin-flanagan-rbs-remains-under-a-cloud-as-lloyds-eyes-sunlit-uplands-1-4370228","id":"1.4370228","articleHeadline": "Martin Flanagan: RBS remains under a cloud as Lloyds eyes sunlit uplands","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487460139000 ,"articleLead": "

More daylight will fall this week on the two UK taxpayer-owned banks operating in different recovery weather systems. Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group met their nemesis in the banking crisis, RBS from the acquisitive bridge too far of Dutch banking giant ABN Amro, and Lloyds through its UK government-steered purchase of the homegrown disaster that was HBOS.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370227.1487424156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS chief Ross McEwan will be quizzed on reports that the bank is looking to axe thousands of jobs. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

The financial figures for 2016 and joint outlooks will be a further compare-and-contrast opportunity. RBS, now under the stewardship of Ross McEwan, is still mired in a British mid-winter of heavy losses via a vortex of legacy issues and fines. Lloyds, led by Antonio Horta-Osorio, is enjoying the continuing springtime of the lender’s return to investor respectability, with an eye-catching jump in profits. As the pop song doesn’t quite have it, wherever these two banks go, they always take the weather with them.

Lloyds started from a better place. The size of its state-constructed oxygen tent was £20 billion, less than half the £45bn thrown to RBS.

At the nadir, the Treasury held more than 80 per cent of RBS compared with just over 40 per cent of Lloyds, which also owns Scottish Widows and Bank of Scotland. As a result, it has been a more tortuous road back towards normality for RBS.

While not overlooking a deeply flawed, systems and controls-lite HBOS, there was also far less for new management at Lloyds to do overall than at its rival. RBS had a labyrinthine international and business-stream structure constructed by former boss Fred Goodwin, where flag-planting became a fetish. By contrast, Lloyds, under its American-born former chief executive Eric Daniels, had largely kept the bank on the UK-domestic straight and narrow.

In fact, it was to expand its hegemony on these shores that Lloyds was unfortunately tempted to acquire HBOS, giving it an even bigger market-leading stranglehold on UK current accounts and mortgages. In card-playing parlance, strategically the group decided to twist rather than stick, and came unstuck.

But as its earnings recovery has taken hold, Lloyds has steadily cut the taxpayer stake so that now it is pretty nominal at under 5 per cent. More than £18.5bn of the bailout has been returned to the Treasury’s coffers, a financial and public relations boon.

By contrast, RBS, even though selling some shares at a loss to the £5 taxpayer buy-in price, still has the government speaking for more than 70 per cent of its stock. The shares closed on Friday at 242p and it will likely be at least in the 2020s before the bank is totally independent of Whitehall again. This week’s red ink will underline that truth.

RBS, which reports on Friday, is expected to unveil its ninth successive year of losses. Perhaps the only good aspect is that the estimated loss of about £6bn for 2016 is dwarfed by the £24bn loss in 2008, the year of the financial crash. Once again, this is partly due to another of the many “bumps in the road” to recovery glumly foreshadowed by McEwan, arising from fines for legacy issues.

Overall, the group has notched up losses of more than £50bn since the crisis. The bank is taking another $3.8bn (£3.1bn) provision for Q4 of last year for mis-selling opaque and toxic mortgage-backed bonds in the lead-up to the crash. It takes the bank’s total provisions on the issue to $8.3bn, and it has served notice that “further substantial additional provisions and costs may be recognised”. Plus ça change...

However, losses at RBS are now seen as curiously complementary as bacon and eggs. The City spotlight will segue from the bald trading figures to other underlying issues before you can say “net interest margin” because factored-in mega-losses are unexciting. These other challenges include the bank’s failure to pass the most recent Bank of England financial stress tests – and the continuing management plans as a result to strengthen its balance sheet – and the interminable saga of the lender’s failure to sell or float off its Williams & Glyn branches, which it had been ordered to do by the European Union to address competition concerns. On Friday the government said RBS could abandon the sale entirely and instead provide £750 million of initiatives to boost competition in UK business banking. This, McEwan said, would deal with the EU obligations “more quickly and with more certainty than undertaking a difficult and complex sale”.

McEwan will also be quizzed on reports that the bank is looking to take another £1bn or so off its cost base, partly to address lower for longer interest rates, and that it could involve many thousands more job losses from a headcount that, as at Lloyds, has been decimated in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Hardly Cassandra-like, I admit, but I expect McEwan to confirm the cost-cutting direction of travel but with a coyness on actual figures. Unfortunate, really, but like the phalanx of big banks on rationalisation details, he is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

Many think Horta-Osorio is edging towards the exit at Lloyds before this year is out after an eventful but ultimately fruit-bearing six years of turning around the Black Horse bank that bolted. He will have much justification for that greater spring in his step. The City consensus is for 2016 profits of £4.4bn – a sharp jump on the £1.64bn profit in the previous year, despite added provisions for payment protection insurance, it being the bank with the biggest ongoing exposure to the scandal. As with all the other banking majors, also expect Lloyds to talk more about the inevitability of branch closures in the face of digitalisation eating the industry.

Some investors harbour hopes for a special dividend as well as a final payout to reflect Lloyds’s operational rejuvenation and rehabilitation with shareholders. A special divi, either this week or at the next interim results this summer, would also have a valedictory panache if Horta-Osorio does decide to ride into a Portuguese sunset.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Martin Flanagan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370227.1487424156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370227.1487424156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "RBS chief Ross McEwan will be quizzed on reports that the bank is looking to axe thousands of jobs. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS chief Ross McEwan will be quizzed on reports that the bank is looking to axe thousands of jobs. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370227.1487424156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/standard-life-set-to-hike-dividend-on-back-of-rise-in-profits-1-4370224","id":"1.4370224","articleHeadline": "Standard Life set to hike dividend on back of rise in profits","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487459284000 ,"articleLead": "

Life and pensions giant Standard Life is expected to hoist the dividend more than 7 per cent on the back of increased profits when it unveils its 2016 results this week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370223.1487423325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Standard Lifes head office in Edinburgh. The City consensus forecast is for the life and pensions giant to report an operating profit of �684m on Friday. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Chief executive Keith Skeoch is set to say the Edinburgh-based life assurer’s geographical diversification, from India to China, has helped it weather the volatility in “challenging” financial markets that have been shaken by the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

The City consensus forecast is for Standard Life to report an operating profit of £684 million on Friday, up nearly 3 per cent on the £665m it made in 2015.

The group is expected to announce a full-year dividend of 19.74p, up from 18.36p in the previous 12 months. Standard Life Investments (SLI), the group’s fund management business, is expected to have boosted profits to £370m, up from £342m last time.

At the interim results last August, Skeoch revealed that assets under management rose 7 per cent to £328 billion, helped by net inflows of £4bn.

Standard Life’s UK pensions and savings arm is thought to have made a profit of £303m, up from £291m in 2015. Profits from the group’s burgeoning activities in India and China are set to have risen to £38m last year, up from £27m in the previous year.

One analyst said: “Standard’s performance will have been pretty decent despite the backdrop.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "y Martin flanagan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370223.1487423325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370223.1487423325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Standard Lifes head office in Edinburgh. The City consensus forecast is for the life and pensions giant to report an operating profit of �684m on Friday. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Standard Lifes head office in Edinburgh. The City consensus forecast is for the life and pensions giant to report an operating profit of �684m on Friday. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370223.1487423325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/treasury-plan-to-spare-rbs-from-having-to-sell-300-branches-1-4370187","id":"1.4370187","articleHeadline": "Treasury plan to spare RBS from having to sell 300 branches","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487431014000 ,"articleLead": "

THE Treasury has put forward plans to the European Union which could spare Royal Bank of Scotland from being forced to sell off Williams & Glyn.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370186.1487430995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond has already said the Government does not expect to offload its 72 per cent stake in RBS until after 2020. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The lender has struggled to offload the W&G branches, which it is required to do by the end of the year under the EU’s state aid rules.

Now the Treasury and RBS have proposed an alternative £750 million plan to boost competition in the banking market in an attempt to appease officials in Brussels.

RBS is required to sell W&G as one of the conditions for the multibillion-pound bailout by the UK Government following the banking crisis, but has struggled to strike a deal.

The Treasury has been in talks with the European Commission (EC) for months about the situation and will now seek formal changes to the state aid commitments.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager will propose to the College of Commissioners that they open proceedings to gather evidence on the new plan, which contains a number of measures aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said “Today’s proposal would provide a path to increased competition in the SME marketplace. If agreed it would deliver an outcome on our EC state aid divestment obligations more quickly and with more certainty than undertaking a difficult and complex sale and would provide much-needed certainty for customers and staff.”

The proposed package, which would cost RBS an estimated £750 million, involves:

• A fund, administered by an independent body, which challenger banks can access to increase their business banking capabilities

• Funding for eligible challenger banks to help them woo SMEs to switch their accounts from RBS

• RBS granting business customers of eligible challenger banks access to its branch network for cash and cheque handling

• An independent fund to invest in financial technology firms

A Treasury spokesman said: “RBS must deliver on its remaining state aid commitments and this new plan represents the most effective way of delivering the pro-competition objectives behind them.

“This new plan provides a clear blueprint to increase competition in the UK’s business banking market, and would help RBS resolve one of its most significant legacy issues which has held back the sale of the taxpayers’ stake.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond has already said the Government does not expect to offload its 72 per cent stake in RBS until after 2020.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370186.1487430995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370186.1487430995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond has already said the Government does not expect to offload its 72 per cent stake in RBS until after 2020. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond has already said the Government does not expect to offload its 72 per cent stake in RBS until after 2020. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370186.1487430995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/stick-to-a-budget-if-you-want-to-boost-your-bank-balance-1-4370212","id":"1.4370212","articleHeadline": "Stick to a budget if you want to boost your bank balance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487422474000 ,"articleLead": "

Setting a budget is often seen as one of the simplest ways of getting your finances back on track – but does budgeting actually work?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370210.1487422456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal London found that 37 per cent of customers surveyed said setting a budget gave them a better understanding of their income and spending. Photograph: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

With the Christmas bills having thudded onto doormats and the squeeze from rising living costs expected to take a tighter grip on household finances in the coming months, many people will be mulling over how they can steer their finances back onto the road to recovery.

A research project by financial services mutual Royal London has shed some light on whether a budget could help.

Some of its customers used smartphone budgeting apps, while others preferred to use a pen and paper, over a three-month period.

While budgeting wasn’t for everyone and some people gave up, around half (49 per cent) of those who kept going said budgeting was helpful.

More than a third (37 per cent) said they have a better understanding of their income and spending and 34 per cent said budgeting has improved their ability to track their spending.

Several people said they had tried budgeting in the past, but would end up estimating how much they had spent. But by having to write down or enter into a budgeting app every item of spending, they had a much better idea where their money went.

Some were surprised by how much they had underestimated or overestimated their spending in certain areas. By seeing it all written down, they could identify areas where they were spending more than they wanted to, such as on eating out, takeaways, transport or socialising. This helped them identify where they could make savings.

Some also discovered there were areas of spending they hadn’t taken into account, such as buying birthday gifts.

Others spotted patterns in their spending, with one person saying they had realised that they made needless purchases on the day their pension was paid in, and another realising they often overestimated their bank balance because they weren’t sure of the dates of various regular payments coming out of their account.

By identifying where they were going wrong, they were able to change these patterns.

And around a quarter (26 per cent) of people now feel more likely to discuss their household finances with their partner, or family, or other members of their household.

Some reported making significant changes to their behaviour, including shopping at cheaper supermarkets, cycling to work and cancelling long-forgotten regular payments.

Some also cut out impulse purchases in favour of saving the money instead.

Sir Steve Webb, Royal London’s director of policy, said: “What was interesting about our research project was the way in which the simple act of monitoring what you spend every day or week made some people more aware and put them more in control of their finances. They were then able to make their own choices about priorities.”

So is there a difference between using a notebook to monitor your spending and using new technology?

The study found that despite the preference among some people for the latest technology, a pen and pad of paper can work well. Three-quarters (74 per cent) of people who used this method of budgeting said it was good or very good at encouraging them to interact with their finances.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Vicky Shaw"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370210.1487422456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370210.1487422456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Royal London found that 37 per cent of customers surveyed said setting a budget gave them a better understanding of their income and spending. Photograph: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal London found that 37 per cent of customers surveyed said setting a budget gave them a better understanding of their income and spending. Photograph: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370210.1487422456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/know-your-rights-when-it-comes-to-flight-delays-1-4370211","id":"1.4370211","articleHeadline": "Know your rights when it comes to flight delays","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487422472000 ,"articleLead": "

What’s the number one source of complaints to Resolver? Flight delays.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370209.1487422453!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "You may be entitled to a refund if an airlines error causes delays. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Flight delays can be caused by lots of problems – anything from sudden snowstorms, foggy mornings or even the occasional disobedient volcano. But if you’re raring to go on holiday – or you’re ready to go home – flight delays are certainly frustrating.

No-one wants to hear the words “mechanical problem” before they get on a plane but this is one of the more common answers for a delay. And then there are the things that can’t be avoided, like the couple I spoke to in New York last year who were stranded at JFK airport with three young children and charity shop clothes after their baggage went missing and their passports and wallets were stolen.

Not all the problems we see are as dramatic as that, but last year we still helped nearly 120,000 people sort out problems with flights and a further 4,500 who’d hit a problem with their travel agent. Of course, most reasons for flight delays aren’t the fault of the airline at all. But if the delay is as a result of their error, you might be able to claim a refund.

We’ve also been working with the airlines and airports to share your stories so they know more about the things that you find annoying when waiting for the all clear for take-off.

Here are my top tips on how to stay calm should things go wrong when you get airside.

Get insured

A surprisingly large number of people travel without insurance. From missing baggage to delayed flights, it’s cover you can’t afford to travel without. Make sure you start the policy now, not just before you travel. That way you can avoid getting caught out by cancellation costs. You can complain to Resolver about insurance problems too.

Be realistic

Most flight delays aren’t the fault of the airline. So you won’t be covered for things the airline can’t control. But if your flight is delayed for more than three hours then you may be able to make a claim. Check out Resolver’s guide at www.resolver.co.uk.

Planning ahead

Make sure you’ve got some flexibility built in with your booking with your hotel too. Call ahead and confirm your booking and write down their contact details, just in case. If you’re not booking a hotel as part of a package, then make sure you’ve checked out the cancellation policy before you book – and book direct from the hotel if you can.

Expect the unexpected

So you look at the baggage carousel desperately after everyone else has gone, but your luggage is missing. What next? Well your insurer should be able to help with an emergency payment but avoid the holiday being ruined by having emergency cash. Take a credit card specifically for holidays (don’t use it the rest of the time – lock it in a drawer). That way you’ve got access to funds if there’s a problem.

Get the details

If your flight is delayed, stay calm. Ask for written confirmation of the delay and what you’re entitled to if things don’t improve (such as food vouchers, for example). Keep the documents should you need to claim. And if the reason for the delay is ambiguous, ask for more detail or look up the plane by its flight number online.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "James Walker"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370209.1487422453!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370209.1487422453!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "You may be entitled to a refund if an airlines error causes delays. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "You may be entitled to a refund if an airlines error causes delays. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370209.1487422453!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/gareth-shaw-always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life-1-4369823","id":"1.4369823","articleHeadline": "Gareth Shaw: Always look on the bright side of life","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487376317000 ,"articleLead": "

I know you don’t want to read yet another article about the dire state of the savings market. You don’t want to know that with inflation now creeping up to 1.8 per cent this week, just one in 30 savings accounts can match or beat rising prices. And I’m sure you’ve had enough of managing your money in this bonkers world where you can earn more by leaving your cash sitting in your bank account than you can in a savings account or cash Isa.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369822.1487352326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Record low interest rates have laid waste to conventional savings returns and mean that other methods have to be turned to"} ,"articleBody": "

So, let’s skip the tale of woe about the damage that record low interest rates have done to your savings returns and get to the point – how can you generate a consistently healthy income from the money you’ve diligently tucked away?

If it’s income you’re after, it’s clear that cash isn’t your best option. If you’re turning to the stock market for the first time in pursuit of a better return, or already investing, equity income funds could be a powerful part of your armoury to generate a regular profit to prop up your pension, salary or other earnings.

The benefits of these investment funds – which pool your money with other investors to buy shares in companies that pay high and consistent dividends, in turn translating into a regular income for you – are no new fad. Some £15 billion of private investor Isa savings are held in equity income funds, according to the Investment Association.

But perhaps savers still desperately scrambling around for morsels in the cash savings market may soon wake up to the opportunities that equity income funds can bring. Last week, it emerged that Neil Woodford, a well known professional investor, would be launching a new equity income fund, which aims to pay 5 per cent in its first year, more than his existing Woodford Equity Income fund (which is currently yielding 3.4 per cent). It’s due to land next month as Isa season reaches fever pitch ahead of the end of the financial year.

The new fund will reportedly look to invest overseas as well as in the UK to try and achieve that 5 per cent income goal (and keep in mind it’s a goal not a guarantee – as successful as Mr Woodford has been in the past, it’s near-impossible to predict how his investment choices will perform in the future).

And this raises an important point if you’re looking to invest in an equity income fund – they come in all shapes and sizes, and some may be better suited to your needs than others. Most funds in this sector invest relatively conservatively, buying shares in large, well-established companies that pay healthy and consistent dividends – a payment of the profits a company makes to shareholders. That means you might see slower and lower growth in the value of your initial investment, all the while receiving an income. Of course, you could reinvest your income back into the fund to grow your capital – this can be an option if you don’t need the income right away.

There are, however, other equity income funds that offer super-high yields in the region of 8 per cent or 9 per cent. While this may seem deliciously attractive, there is a downside. These funds – sometimes referred to as ‘enhanced’ income funds – turbo-charge their returns by selling off the profits they make from the shares they hold and buy derivatives, complex financial contracts called ‘call options’, to boost the income you receive.

The trade-off there is that you may see little or no growth in the value of your initial investment as the profits have been used to ‘enhance’ the income. This all depends on the strategy the fund manager uses: some will take all the profits and use it to boost your income as much as possible, whereas others limit themselves to around 60 per cent of the profits. Suffice to say, investing for income is not like the relatively simple, off-the-shelf selection you make when choosing a savings account.

However, these funds can be a compelling option in this era of pitiful cash savings rates, where just 23 out of 697 accounts – that one in 30 I mentioned earlier – on the market beat the latest inflation rate. I know you don’t want to be reminded of that.

Gareth Shaw is head of Which? Money Online

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369822.1487352326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369822.1487352326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Record low interest rates have laid waste to conventional savings returns and mean that other methods have to be turned to","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Record low interest rates have laid waste to conventional savings returns and mean that other methods have to be turned to","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369822.1487352326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/friday-market-close-kraft-unilever-deal-talk-sees-footsie-jump-1-4292657","id":"1.4292657","articleHeadline": "Friday market close: Kraft-Unilever deal talk sees Footsie jump","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487354901000 ,"articleLead": "

London’s top-flight index pushed higher, buoyed by surging Unilever shares after the consumer goods giant, which owns leading brands like Marmite and PG Tips, rejected a major merger offer from US peer Kraft Heinz.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4348631.1485368399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The headquarters of the London Stock Exchange. Picture: Sang Tan/AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The FTSE 100 closed 22.04 points higher at 7,299.96, topped by Unilever, which shot up 449.5p to 3,797p.

It comes after Kraft Heinz offered $143 billion (£115bn) for the Anglo-Dutch company, representing an 18 per cent premium on Unilever’s closing share price on 16 February. Unilever said the offer “fundamentally undervalues” the firm and demanded shareholders take no action.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “There is speculation that Kraft Heinz will return with a higher offer, which in turn will prompt competition concerns as well as worries about job losses, given Kraft Heinz’s narrow focus on costs.

“Unilever shareholders will also have to weigh up the costs of throwing away a consistent path of dividend growth, which has seen good regular returns over the last ten years.”

Disappointing retail data weighed on the pound, which dropped 0.5 per cent against the dollar to $1.241 and fell flat against the euro to trade near €1.169.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 included Coca-Cola HBC up 77p to 1,989p, Imperial Brands up 116p to 3,781p, and Reckitt Benckiser Group up 199p at 7,100p.

The biggest fallers included Standard Chartered down 35.2p at 773p, Royal Dutch Shell’s ‘B’ shares down 40p at 2,185.5p, and Anglo American down 24.5p at 1,345p.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "businessdesk@scotsman.com" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4348631.1485368399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4348631.1485368399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The headquarters of the London Stock Exchange. Picture: Sang Tan/AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The headquarters of the London Stock Exchange. Picture: Sang Tan/AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4348631.1485368399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/unite-sells-student-housing-sites-in-295m-deal-1-4369435","id":"1.4369435","articleHeadline": "Unite sells student housing sites in £295m deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487335814000 ,"articleLead": "

Unite, the student accommodation developer, has sold off 13 properties to fund manager Brookfield in a £295 million deal that includes several sites north of the Border.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369434.1487335900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The deal includes student housing schemes in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The sale encompasses a portfolio of properties located in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Liverpool and York totalling 4,175 beds.

Unite said its share of the deal amounts to £102m, with the cash being used to fund further growth in mid- to high-ranked university locations with the most secure long-term growth prospects.

READ MORE: Growing number of student flats raises eyebrows in Glasgow

Part of the proceeds will be injected into the company’s recent 3,100-bed on-campus acquisition at Aston University and the remainder “recycled into Unite’s development activity and further high quality investment properties”.

The move marks the first stage of the group’s plan to “recycle” some £150m to £200m of assets during 2017 to take advantage of the “ongoing strength in the investment market for well let student accommodation”.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Unite chief executive Richard Smith said: “This sale is an important part of our strategy to recycle capital to fund our ongoing investments, focused on the strongest university towns and cities, where we have deep university relationships and where we can provide the best accommodation and services for our students.

“Our development pipeline supports further earnings growth as we continue to invest in strong student markets.”

Unite Students is the UK’s largest and most established manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation. It provides a home for around 50,000 students, in more than 140 properties, across 28 cities.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369434.1487335900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369434.1487335900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The deal includes student housing schemes in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The deal includes student housing schemes in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369434.1487335900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/pension-firms-must-learn-from-amazon-says-aegon-boss-1-4369394","id":"1.4369394","articleHeadline": "Pension firms must learn from Amazon, says Aegon boss","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487334472000 ,"articleLead": "

Aegon UK chief executive Adrian Grace has called for the pensions industry to take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and make life easier for customers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369393.1487334515!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Adrian Grace said Amazon was a 'prime example' of success because it understands its customers. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking as the Edinburgh-based insurer revealed record growth for its online savings platform, he said that the “relentless” pace of regulatory change facing the sector has seen providers failing to focus on the customer experience.

With radical overhauls such as the abolition of adviser commission and increased freedom over how savers access their pension pots, Grace said that investment in the industry “has focused to a large extent on remaining compliant and just keeping up with the changes”.

READ MORE: Aegon hails ‘new era’ as £140m Cofunds deal completes

He added: “This has meant under-investment in user experience across the board and if we look outside our industry, we see the businesses that are successful are those that make life as easy as possible for their customers. Amazon is a prime example of a business that has been successful largely because it’s so intuitive and understands its customers. The next big challenge for our industry is to invest in the user experience while continuing to keep pace with regulation, which will no doubt continue to evolve.”

His comments came as Aegon, which last month completed its £140 million acquisition of Legal & General’s Cofunds division, said the value of assets on its platform swelled by £7 billion during 2016 to hit £13.4bn, with inflows of £1.9bn in the final three months of the year, which Grace said was the operation’s “best quarter yet”.

Growth of the platform, which helps savers manage their investments online, has been driven by new business wins, “buoyant” stock market conditions and a programme to upgrade existing customers to the digital world.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Dutch-owned Aegon, based at Edinburgh Park, employs about 2,100 people. The takeover of Cofunds, which has more than 750,000 customers and assets under administration of some £77.5bn, followed its acquisition of BlackRock’s £12bn defined contribution (DC) platform and administration business and the sale of its £3bn UK annuities portfolio to Legal & General in May.

Grace also hailed “excellent” results at the group’s protection business, which saw fourth-quarter sales jump 11 per cent compared with the same period last year.

“2016 was a game-changing year for Aegon and by selling our annuity book and acquiring both Cofunds and BlackRock’s DC platform, the business has a very clear focus,” he said yesterday.

“A combination of factors including the pension freedoms, investment uncertainty and an increased demand for advice on transfers from defined benefit schemes is creating strong demand for financial advice.

“Against this backdrop our goal is to help advisers and other intermediaries meet this demand by offering the best tools and service and by not competing for distribution, we believe we’ll be successful.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369393.1487334515!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369393.1487334515!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Adrian Grace said Amazon was a 'prime example' of success because it understands its customers. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Adrian Grace said Amazon was a 'prime example' of success because it understands its customers. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369393.1487334515!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/when-will-rosyth-s-nuclear-submarines-finally-be-scrapped-1-4369308","id":"1.4369308","articleHeadline": "When will Rosyth’s nuclear submarines finally be scrapped?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487330606000 ,"articleLead": "

When the seventh HMS Dreadnought was launched by The Queen at Barrow in 1960, it was a momentous day for the Royal Navy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369306.1487330584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An aerial view of Rosyth Dockyard in 1997. Decommissioned nuclear submarines have been stored at the former naval base since 1980. Picture: Jeremy Stockton/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The vessel was the UK’s first ever nuclear-powered submarine and represented a great leap forward in the country’s defence capabilities at the height of the Cold War.

But the Dreadnought today is a source of embarrassment rather than pride for the Senior Service. The submarine was decommissioned in 1980 and has been laid up afloat at Rosyth Dockyard ever since. It has now spent double the time tied up in Fife than it did on active service.

Another six decommissioned nuclear submarines have since joined Dreadnought at the former naval base. The cost of storing and maintaining them was £1.6 million in 2013/14, down from £3.8m the year before.

A total of £16m was spent in a five-year period on 19 laid-up submarines at Roysth and Devonport on the south-coast of England.

Although all the vessels in Fife have been defuelled, they cannot be scrapped until their radioactive parts have been removed - a process that will take decades.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced in December it had finally began this gradual process, beginning with HMS Swiftsure, which has been laid up at Rosyth since 1992.

“We have begun initial dismantling on time and as planned in Rosyth, and are committed to ensuring that submarine dismantling is undertaken in a safe, secure, cost-effective and environmentally sound manner,” an MOD spokeswoman told The Scotsman.

They added the decommissioned submarines were subject to regular maintenance and checks by both the MOD and regulators, and “pose no additional risks to workers or members of the public”.

The first step in the dismantling process is to take “low level waste” out of the Swiftsure.

“The process will be refined with this first vessel and then best practice taken forward for the remaining vessels,” the spokeswoman added.

“It will take a number of decades to complete all of the submarines in the scope of Submarine Dismantling Project. It is not possible to give a precise timescale until feedback is received from the demonstrator submarine. This will inform the current assumption of dismantling one submarine every 18 months.”

READ MORE: Opponents clash over Trident job numbers at Faslane

But those who have long campaigned for the submarines’ removal, citing safety fears, are worried about potential delays arising from the experimental nature of the decommissioning project and a lack of budget.

Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife and a former Roysth councillor, has been calling for the MOD to take action since first being elected.

“The submarine dismantling programme has been waiting to happen for years,” he said.

“Thank goodness some progress appears to be underway however, even if the process proves successful, the pace at which submarines being dismantled amount to just one per year.

“The MOD confirmed to me in the Defence Committee that the pace of dismantling could not be accelerated due to lack of sufficient budget.

“The key issue for Scotland and Rosyth is that all hazardous waste is safely removed from our shores and no further old submarines are brought to Rosyth for storage. Our deal is once the ones we have are gone, they’re gone and we’re not interested in accepting anymore.”

READ MORE: Clyde yards embrace virtual reality for latest navy ships

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369306.1487330584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369306.1487330584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An aerial view of Rosyth Dockyard in 1997. Decommissioned nuclear submarines have been stored at the former naval base since 1980. Picture: Jeremy Stockton/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An aerial view of Rosyth Dockyard in 1997. Decommissioned nuclear submarines have been stored at the former naval base since 1980. Picture: Jeremy Stockton/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369306.1487330584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369307.1487330589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369307.1487330589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought is recommissioned at Rosyth Dockyard in September 1970. The vessel was withdrawn from active service 10 years later and is now back at Rosyth awaiting disposal. Picture: Hamish Campbell/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought is recommissioned at Rosyth Dockyard in September 1970. The vessel was withdrawn from active service 10 years later and is now back at Rosyth awaiting disposal. Picture: Hamish Campbell/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369307.1487330589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/sparkling-result-for-fife-glazing-group-cr-smith-1-4369298","id":"1.4369298","articleHeadline": "Sparkling result for Fife glazing group CR Smith","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487329918000 ,"articleLead": "

Investment has paid off for double glazing firm CR Smith after the long-established Fife business booked a steady increase in turnover and profits.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369297.1487330294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "CR Smith boss Gerard Eadie revealed a sixth successive year of growth for the glazier. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Newly released group accounts show that revenues for the 12 months to the end of February 2016 hit £21.9 million, up from £21.4m the year before, while gross profits before tax totalled £159,083, a year-on-year rise of almost 28 per cent. Profits after tax were 22.4 per cent higher.

READ MORE: CR Smith sees window of opportunity to expand

It marks the sixth successive year that the Dunfermline-based firm, which installs windows, doors and conservatories for the domestic market, has reported growth. During the period under review, the headcount rose slightly, to 308 from 300 in 2015.

Accounts for the group’s commercial operation, CR Smith Manufacturing, also showed steady improvements with sales up to £7.5m from £7.3m, while gross profits edged up to £1.8m from £1.7m. The business, which has taken advantage of increased demand from new-build developers, employs a further 90 staff at its Cowdenbeath factory.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

CR Smith has been owned and operated by executive chairman Gerard Eadie for 40 years. He said: “Over the past six years we have consistently delivered a quality product and high level of customer service.

“We have progressively invested in both the manufacturing and sales operations to keep pace with customer demand, on both the domestic and commercial side of the business. We are also building up new revenue streams.”

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369297.1487330294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369297.1487330294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "CR Smith boss Gerard Eadie revealed a sixth successive year of growth for the glazier. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "CR Smith boss Gerard Eadie revealed a sixth successive year of growth for the glazier. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369297.1487330294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/mallaig-harbour-sets-out-plans-for-90m-upgrade-1-4369237","id":"1.4369237","articleHeadline": "Mallaig Harbour sets out plans for £90m upgrade","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487327647000 ,"articleLead": "

Plans have been unveiled for a £90 million transformation of Mallaig Harbour in a bid to increase ferry services and accommodate larger vessels at the site.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369236.1487327695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The upgrade could deliver a major economic boost for Mallaig. Picture: Stephen Mansfield"} ,"articleBody": "

Mallaig Harbour Authority said that its 20-year strategy could also deliver a new facility for West Highland College, incorporating multi-use space for education and business.

As well as making the outer harbour more accessible for fishing boats, the masterplan envisages a new breakwater quay to enable ferries up to 105 metres long to berth at the site, along with a deepwater quay for cruise liners up to 160 metres.

READ MORE: CalMac hits new heights as boss remains at helm

In the Mallaig Harbour Authority’s masterplan document, it states: “Mallaig Harbour must not stand still. The consequence of ‘do nothing’ is highly likely to be gradual decline, loss of industries and direct jobs, and people leaving, with obvious impacts on the village.

“In contrast, the masterplan transforms the prospects of the village and its population, and also sustains the peripheral island and remote mainland communities that Mallaig Harbour serves.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

The authority estimates that the successful implementation of its plans would generate an economic boost of up to £155m over the next 30 years and create about 125 extra jobs a year in the first seven years – on top of the 200 existing roles in aquaculture, fisheries and the boatyard that would be safeguarded.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369236.1487327695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369236.1487327695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The upgrade could deliver a major economic boost for Mallaig. Picture: Stephen Mansfield","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The upgrade could deliver a major economic boost for Mallaig. Picture: Stephen Mansfield","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369236.1487327695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487336751593"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/yvonne-dunn-helping-finance-giants-navigate-the-cloud-1-4369188","id":"1.4369188","articleHeadline": "Yvonne Dunn: Helping finance giants navigate the cloud","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487325494000 ,"articleLead": "

Cloud technology, cloud ­computing or just simply cloud, has been treated with caution by the banking sector – and for good reason.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369187.1487329357!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cloud technology can help banks adapt their systems more quickly, but there are still regulatory hurdles to overcome. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Concerns remain over how to meet strict requirements regarding regulatory, risk ­compliance and data-sharing issues. But the adoption of cloud has gone from a ­position where it was seen as being too risky, to where it’s almost too risky not to adopt as part of an overall IT strategy.

The benefits cloud can bring are many. The migration of products and services from legacy infrastructure to cloud-based systems will cut costs by reducing the heavy investment needed for traditional IT infrastructure with its dedicated hardware, software and related manpower.

The flexibility and scalability of cloud-based systems gives banks the ability to respond quickly to market conditions and customer and technology needs, while closer alignment of technology and ­business operations increases efficiency. It’s also much easier to launch new and bundled products and services.

READ MORE: Financial cloud outfit ploughs £2m into Paisley site

Our financial services clients tell us there are still hurdles to overcome and the ­formation of a working group between Pinsent Masons and the British Banking Association (BBA) has resulted in Banking on Cloud, a report which identifies seven of those hurdles.

One obstacle is the requirement of financial services businesses to have appropriate regulatory oversight over the cloud supply chain. From a legal and commercial perspective, the issue of understanding who the cloud provider’s supply chain is and how the bank can have appropriate oversight is a difficult issue.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance provides some clarity on this and focuses on the definition of regulated activity. Uunfortunately the guidance does not go far enough to provide transparency on what that actually means. It seems to me that the issue is the grey in the middle. By that, I mean some services are very obviously not related to regulatory activity. At the moment there is a great deal of onus on the bank as the regulated entity to make that call, and that feels risky.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Banking on Cloud recommends that the working group should establish best practice guidance. Undoubtedly, pooling the different voices of regulated entities and combining their knowledge and experience is to be welcomed, but I think it is important that the regulator is also looped in to that process in some way.

The extent to which the regulator wants to be involved requires to be defined – it may be taking cognisance of what is agreed by the working group and updating FCA guidance, or perhaps contributing to the code of practice. However, I feel that, without the regulator’s involvement, there is the possibility that the financial ­services ­sector will not have a sense of a “stamp of approval”, and full-scale adoption of cloud will still be viewed as a risk.

It will also help to have financial services businesses and cloud-providers work together and describe in detail the arrangements being put in place. This dual perspective would be a powerful tool in taking things forward. Another point raised in the report is to ask if the cloud service providers are doing enough to help banks or other financial services get comfortable around the supply chain. Our discussions with cloud providers ­suggest that they are willing to support initiatives which will provide more clarity in terms of information which satisfies regulatory requirements in relation to supply chain.

It is only a combined effort of BBA members and other stakeholders, allied to engagement from cloud-service providers – with regulator involvement or better still buy-in – which will produce a pragmatic solution to the hurdles in the way of reaping the significant benefits that cloud can offer to banks and their millions-strong customer base.

• Yvonne Dunn is head of TMT (technology, media, telecommunications) at legal firm Pinsent Masons

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "YVONNE DUNN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369187.1487329357!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369187.1487329357!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cloud technology can help banks adapt their systems more quickly, but there are still regulatory hurdles to overcome. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cloud technology can help banks adapt their systems more quickly, but there are still regulatory hurdles to overcome. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369187.1487329357!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/time-to-take-an-ethical-approach-to-investments-1-4369157","id":"1.4369157","articleHeadline": "Time to take an ethical approach to investments","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487323059000 ,"articleLead": "

A debate held at Heriot-Watt’s Centre for Finance & Investment examines how such a perspective can sit with the need for profitable shareholder returns.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369156.1487325819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Ethical Finance Hub and Heriot-Watt's Centre for Finance & Investment staged the debate. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Ethical investment seeks to achieve both a financial return and create social value. It covers many investment strategies, often focusing on environmental outcomes, social benefits and strong corporate governance.

More conventional approaches to ­investment might be associated with ­maximising financial returns.

So when the Centre for Finance & Investment (CFI) at Heriot-Watt University and the Ethical Finance Hub recently joined forces to hold a debate on the motion “Ethical investment is the pursuit of shareholder value”, it might well have seemed easy to dismiss the notion.

READ MORE: Church launches ethical finance joint venture

Proposing the motion, Robin Angus of Personal Assets Trust and Bill Dinning of the Medical Defence Union, argued for a narrow interpretation of it. They argued that it was a binding concern for them as professional fund managers. Professional managers have a fiduciary duty and must act according to the wishes of their investors who, in turn, may choose to act ­ethically if they so wish. In this view, investment professionals are ethical if they follow the wishes of the investors.

Professor Iqbal Asaria of the Cass ­Business School and Tomas Carruthers of the Social Stock Exchange opposed the motion, seeking to widen the argument to consider investment as a socially-beneficial activity, rather than a professional activity. They found it easy to provide examples of companies which claim to pursue shareholder value, but which have promoted more self-interested objectives. They argued that shareholder value as a corporate objective has been found ­wanting in promoting ethical behaviour.

­Professor Heather McGregor, executive dean of the Edinburgh Business School, reminded the audience that the power of the market was an important reason for the wealth of society and that shareholder value should not be lightly cast aside. This argument has been well understood since Milton Friedman brought it to ­public notice in 1970. He decried any attempt to impose duties on companies other than serving the interests of shareholders.

The response to that argument has come to be known as stakeholder ­theory. It argues that companies should ­promote the interests of each and every group affected by its activities. Shareholders are just one, important, interest group. And directors, ultimately, should promote the interests of the company as a whole.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

The economic critique of stakeholder theory, stated very clearly by Michael Jensen in 2001, is that pursuing any goal other than shareholder value increases the costs of monitoring managers’ behaviour, while reducing accountability to shareholders. The pursuit of multiple objectives will require trade-offs.

With no meaningful way to measure or guide performance across the range of objectives, Jensen suggests that managers might prefer stakeholder approaches since accountability will be lower. Put ­simply, responsible investing will impair the firm’s performance.

Evidence, both in the academic literature and from practitioners, indicates that ethical funds can match the performance of index funds. Notorious failures in the early years of ethical investment have been replaced – especially since the financial crisis – with the situation where many ethical funds perform as well if not ­better than their competitors. Yet the focus of the CFI debate was not on the desirability of ethics per se but, more specifically, on the role of investment professionals as the agent of the shareholders and the suitability of the objective of shareholder wealth maximisation as a means to creating social value.

Both sides agreed that ­companies should be socially responsible. It was notable that all the speakers emphasised the limitations of shareholder value theory. Even the professional investors were reluctant to use it as a guide. All speakers agreed that responsible investment can be conducted at little or no cost to investors. A narrow majority of the audience at the CFI debate – a mixture of students, academics and investment professionals – agreed with the motion before the debate started. That was overturned with a more substantial majority against the motion by the end.

We don’t claim that our debate has settled the issue. But it was very clear that, as our audience heard the arguments, they became more convinced that investment has to be much more than a search for profits – that it is not simply a narrow, technical, professional activity, but a broad range of processes and activities affecting society in many ways.

That perspective opens up opportunities for novel investment strategies, and the Ethical Finance Hub will build on the outcome of the debate in promoting social responsibility in investment across Scotland.

• Edward Jones is director of the Centre for Finance & Investment at Heriot-Watt University. Robbie Mochrie is associate professor of economics at Heriot-Watt University

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EDWARD JONES AND ROBBIE MOCHRIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369156.1487325819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369156.1487325819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Ethical Finance Hub and Heriot-Watt's Centre for Finance & Investment staged the debate. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Ethical Finance Hub and Heriot-Watt's Centre for Finance & Investment staged the debate. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369156.1487325819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/chris-harte-comparisons-with-the-rest-of-uk-matter-1-4369148","id":"1.4369148","articleHeadline": "Chris Harte: Comparisons with the rest of UK matter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487321708000 ,"articleLead": "

You would think that rising productivity levels in Scotland, particularly when the rate of improvement is four times faster than the UK average, is good news.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369147.1487321816!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris Harte says extra tax-raising powers bring with them greater fiscal risk. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

UK productivity has risen for four consecutive quarters now, and Scotland is closing the gap on the UK average.

But let’s not be blind to the realities of our economic performance. Scottish productivity still lags behind the UK average despite this improvement.

READ MORE: Scotland falls behind rest of UK as jobless total rises

The good news masks the impact this could have on Scotland’s spending budget as a whole. There are serious economic concerns much closer at hand than you might imagine.

The Fraser of Allander Institute shot a stark warning across our bows about the future economic health of Scotland just prior to the recent budget: with increased autonomy over domestic tax-raising powers comes greater fiscal risk.

Any additional taxes raised here are ours to keep – and tax revenues are closely linked to economic performance. But here’s the rub: if Scotland underperforms versus the rest of the UK, our budget will effectively fall. The time has come to engage Scottish business in a nationwide conversation about protecting our economy and ensuring growth in this context.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Our business leaders can no longer accept the adage that Scottish economic growth tends to lag behind the UK average, pointing to the special circumstances of North Sea oil in particular.

We should see the new scope and responsibilities of the Scottish Government as a huge opportunity: no two parts of the UK are the same and a tailored approach must surely work best. So Scotland is in theory already at an advantage over the major metropolitan areas of England, who don’t have the autonomy they want (yet).

Fighting for Scotland is not just about our relationship with the EU – it’s about being seen as a flourishing economic hotbed. By 2019, everything from income tax to land and buildings transactions tax, landfill tax, non-savings, non-dividend income tax, air passenger duty and some receipts from VAT raised in Scotland will be assigned to the Scottish budget.

If our per capita tax revenues don’t match those raised in the rest of the UK in future, it could well be because we took our eyes off everyone else at precisely the time we needed to watch them like hawks.

• Chris Harte is CEO of law firm Morton Fraser

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS HARTE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369147.1487321816!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369147.1487321816!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chris Harte says extra tax-raising powers bring with them greater fiscal risk. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris Harte says extra tax-raising powers bring with them greater fiscal risk. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369147.1487321816!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/bse-regulations-might-be-lifted-in-coming-months-1-4369140","id":"1.4369140","articleHeadline": "BSE regulations ‘might be lifted in coming months’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487320534000 ,"articleLead": "

Regulations put in place more than a decade ago following the outbreak of BSE in this country could be lifted in little more than a couple of months’ time, according to a leading expert in the sheep industry.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369138.1487320610!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Industry leaders hope the restrictions could be lifted in May. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

George Milne, Scottish regional development officer with the National Sheep Association, said that following an application last year by the Scottish Government to Europe to lift the restrictions, there was now hope this would actually happen in May.

Scotland has actually been free of BSE for a number of years but has not managed to shake off the regulatory burden of still having a problem with it. Now, he said, the authorities in Brussels were on the verge of removing this barrier to opening up trade.

READ MORE: Meat wholesalers call for ‘negligible’ BSE risk grade

Speaking to NSA members this week, Milne said there would be a number of advantages to the red meat sector. Meat processors would see a big reduction in their costs, meat products with bone in them could again be sold and there should also be a boost to exports to new countries which have been scared off by the BSE tag.

Earlier, Milne had stressed the danger that lamb and sheep meat might be sidelined in trade negotiations after Brexit.

“We cannot afford to have the sheep industry ignored in trade talks,” he claimed, adding that the Scottish “red meat sector was very vulnerable in trade negotiations”.

He was also concerned that UK farm minister George Eustice had floated the idea that future public support for the livestock sector might be based on animal welfare grounds.

“Welfare is a dangerous word, I don’t like it. I prefer animal health. There are lots of potential benefits in basing future support to improving animal health. Apart from anything else such a programme will help improve efficiency.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Looking forward, he was concerned about the future funding of the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), which currently puts millions of pounds of subsidy into some of the more remote areas and islands in Scotland. Continuation of this support into farming in these areas was vital for the rural economy of Scotland, he argued.

While it looked as if the UK would use a derogation from the EU to prevent changes having to be made from LFASS into Areas of Natural Constraint, Milne said there was still a real possibility support might be diminished in a post-Brexit world.

In this robust defence of support in the hills, he was supported by the newly elected NSA chairman, John Fyall. “This is one of my main priorities,” he claimed.

After taking the tenancy of the small farm of Sittyton, Newmacher, in 2009, Fyall has built up a small sheep flock in the organic unit along with a herd of pedigree Shorthorn cattle.

He also takes annual grazings where he buys ewe lambs in the Spring prior to selling them in the Autumn as gimmers.

Both speakers spoke strongly on the need to promote the sale of lamb.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "andrew@andrewarbuckle.org" ,"author": "ANDREW ARBUCKLE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369138.1487320610!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369138.1487320610!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Industry leaders hope the restrictions could be lifted in May. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Industry leaders hope the restrictions could be lifted in May. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369138.1487320610!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/eating-soft-fruit-could-help-fight-against-diabetes-1-4369127","id":"1.4369127","articleHeadline": "Eating soft fruit could help fight against diabetes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487319435000 ,"articleLead": "

It has been known for some time that eating soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries is good for you.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369126.1487319567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Researchers say new varieties could be developed for specific health benefits. Picture: Bill Henry"} ,"articleBody": "

But yesterday it was claimed that consumption of these berries might have beneficial effects on a range of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers.

READ MORE: Blueberry research could help diabetes sufferers

Speaking at the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) winter meeting, Dr Gordon McDougall, a research scientist at the James Hutton Institute, said: “Recent work has provided evidence that polyphenols from berries can have a range of beneficial effects on food digestion.”

He added new berry varieties with improved properties could be bred in the future, or new products formulated for specific health benefits.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

At the same meeting, Dr Andreas Kolb, senior research fellow at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, said: “Using model systems and human studies, we are investigating the mechanisms by which berry bio-active compounds support cardiovascular health, weight management and the control of blood glucose levels relevant to type 2 diabetes.”

Commenting on these views, Alison Dolan, secretary of the SSCR soft fruit subcommittee, stressed their importance with conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease resulting in greatly increased pressures on health services.

The public appear to be cottoning on to eating more soft fruit, with strawberry production in the UK rising 6 per cent last year to just under 90,000 tonnes. Blackberry production rose 9 per cent and blueberries 18 per cent – with much smaller tonnages.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW ARBUCKLE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369126.1487319567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369126.1487319567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Researchers say new varieties could be developed for specific health benefits. Picture: Bill Henry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Researchers say new varieties could be developed for specific health benefits. Picture: Bill Henry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369126.1487319567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/gaming-sector-gets-a-lift-from-elevator-programme-1-4369105","id":"1.4369105","articleHeadline": "Gaming sector gets a lift from Elevator programme","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487317753000 ,"articleLead": "

An international project to help nurture Scotland’s brightest gaming companies has been unveiled in Dundee.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369104.1487317975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Elevator UK project manager Lynne Martin with Accelerator manager Andy Campbell at the launch in Dundee. Picture: Michal Wachucik/Abermedia"} ,"articleBody": "

The Global Domination Accelerator will be delivered by Elevator – the social enterprise dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and employees – on behalf of Scottish Enterprise.

READ MORE: Ex-Grand Theft Auto supremo leads Krotos funding deal

The project – open for applications from software and gaming companies with “international growth ambitions” based throughout Scotland – was launched in Dundee at the offices of mobile developer Outplay Entertainment

It will comprise workshops, monthly meet-ups, one-to-one focus sessions, mentoring and four international events featuring experts from the games or associated industries.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Project manager Andy Campbell said that Elevator had extensive knowledge of the games industry, having worked with more than 50 companies in the past 20 years.

He said: “Games sector ­companies are very different from standard businesses, and common to all is an underlying creative passion in gaming – whether this is on the creative side or technology driven, the need to create great games and interactive experiences fuels their passion.

“Companies are often unsure just what their objectives should or could be when it comes to growing their business internationally.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369104.1487317975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369104.1487317975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Elevator UK project manager Lynne Martin with Accelerator manager Andy Campbell at the launch in Dundee. Picture: Michal Wachucik/Abermedia","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Elevator UK project manager Lynne Martin with Accelerator manager Andy Campbell at the launch in Dundee. Picture: Michal Wachucik/Abermedia","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369104.1487317975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/morrisons-aims-to-give-british-suppliers-a-boost-1-4369102","id":"1.4369102","articleHeadline": "Morrisons aims to give British suppliers a boost","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487316374000 ,"articleLead": "

Supermarket Morrisons said today that it is looking to take on more than 200 new suppliers within a year on the back of increasing consumer demand for locally sourced products.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369101.1487316491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrisons is the biggest customer for the UK farming industry. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Buyers from the retailer, which says it is British farming’s biggest single customer and the UK’s largest fresh food-maker, are to tour Britain in search of top producers as it aims to boost the local food it sells and cut food miles.

The target is “more customers being able to buy more food in a British supermarket that was grown, made, picked or packaged within 30 to 60 miles of their local store”, Morrisons said.

READ MORE: Sleeping supermarket giants begin to awaken

It comes as research, commissioned by the supermarket chain, found that 52 per cent of food eaten in the UK comes from our farmers, while we import more than twice as much food as we export, at £39 billion and £18bn respectively, plus the range of crops grown in the UK has fallen.

However, the study also found that about two-thirds of UK shoppers say they prefer to buy food produced domestically.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Andy Higginson, chairman of Morrisons, said: “Our customers tell us they want to see more food that is made just down the road from their own communities and that’s why we are looking for the next generation of British and local food-makers to serve our 12 million customers.

“We want small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones – the Innocent Smoothies of tomorrow – and we also want to give our customers the option of more food that meets their local food tastes.”

Morrisons was found in research published yesterday by Which? on supermarket customer satisfaction to have climbed from eighth place last year to number five.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369101.1487316491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369101.1487316491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Morrisons is the biggest customer for the UK farming industry. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrisons is the biggest customer for the UK farming industry. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369101.1487316491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/builder-cala-upbeat-on-outlook-for-scottish-economy-1-4367973","id":"1.4367973","articleHeadline": "Builder Cala upbeat on outlook for Scottish economy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487315828000 ,"articleLead": "

Cala Group, the Edinburgh-based housebuilder, said it is “particularly positive about where the Scottish economy’s going” after reporting what it called a “very strong” first half.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4367972.1487230740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cala said it was on track for its fifth consecutive year of record growth. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The group said in a trading update for the six months to 31 December that it was set to deliver a further record year of revenues and profits in 2017.

There was a 24 per cent year-on-year jump in net private reservations in the first half to 610 homes, and it is now 80 per cent sold for the full year.

Chief executive Alan Brown told The Scotsman: “The business is in a really good place, and we’re expecting to deliver our fifth consecutive year of record profits and revenues.”

READ MORE: China’s Evergrande emerges as potential Cala buyer

Results for the full year to end-June 2016 showed that pre-tax profits topped £60 million for the first time in the group’s history, with revenues up 15 per cent to £587.1m.

Brown said the group is still on track to deliver revenues of about £1 billion by 2020, and described the first half as marking a “really good start” to its current financial year.

He added that Scotland traded “particularly” positively for the first six months with stability in the Aberdeen market, saying: “We are investing in all of our regions now and started to reinvest in our Aberdeen business and we are particularly positive about where the Scottish economy’s going.”

Additionally, he said the Central Belt is in fact “slightly more positive than the south-east of England”, with the latter still positive, and explained that prices north of the Border average at £360,000, with “very little” north of £1m.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Across the UK, Cala’s average selling prices fell in the first half to £504,000 from £529,000, which it said reflected a change to its product mix and lower exposure to homes valued at more than £1m.

Brown said the group’s growth strategy has overall focused on moving away from the upper end of the market “but in reality it’s just bringing it in line with the Scottish market”.

He also stressed that as it looks to grow with bigger sites and “slightly smaller” houses, “we’re still very much at the premium end of that market. We’re still the Waitrose or BMW of housebuilding.”

The business, which started out in 1875 as the City of Aberdeen Land Association, was bought by private equity firm Patron Capital Partners and insurer Legal & General four years ago in a deal worth £210m, while in November, Chinese property developer Evergrande Group was named as a possible buyer of Cala.

As to whether any further M&A activity is on the cards, Brown would not confirm or deny speculation, adding: “At the end of the day we’re completely focused on strong trading performance.”

He highlighted the firm’s acquisition of housebuilder Banner Homes in 2014, saying: “That’s given us the critical mass that we needed so at the moment we’ve no intention of doing anything — buying or selling. [We’re] just building and selling homes.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "emma.newlands@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4367972.1487230740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4367972.1487230740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cala said it was on track for its fifth consecutive year of record growth. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cala said it was on track for its fifth consecutive year of record growth. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4367972.1487230740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}