Business in brief: Prudential | Imax | Paddy Power

FORMER Standard Life finance director Jackie Hunt is to take up her new role as head of Prudential’s UK and European operations next week, the insurer confirmed yesterday.

Hunt’s appointment, unveiled in April, will see her replace Rob Devey as chief executive of Prudential UK & Europe on 5 September, becoming the first female to hold such a position at the 165-year-old firm. Devey will leave at the end of October “to pursue new opportunities”.

Prudential will pay Hunt, who joined Standard Life in 2009, a basic salary of £625,000. She will be in line for annual bonuses of up to £1 million.

Glasgow film–goers set for Imax revamp

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Cineworld is to overhaul the Imax cinema at Glasgow Science Centre as part of a new revenue-sharing deal with the Canadian producer of high-definition film technology.

The agreement will also see Cineworld add a further Imax cinema to its existing roster, which includes Edinburgh, but it has yet to confirm a location.

Glasgow Science Centre became the home of Scotland’s first Imax screen in 2000, and Cineworld took over operations this year. The revamp will involve the installation of a digital system before moving over to laser digital projection.

Paddy Power cracks whip on UK growth

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is seeking to expand its presence in the UK after unveiling a 12 per cent rise in half-year profits.

The Dublin-based firm has 228 shops in the UK, having opened 19 during the first six months of the year, and expects to add at least 40 more a year “in the current environment”.

Operating profits grew to €75.4 million, up from €67.1m for the first half of 2012, as a surge in online bets helped it overcome a “Cheltenham to forget” for Irish bookies, which saw the favourites win a third of the races and Irish-trained horses take most of the prizes.

Bank finance funds nursery expansion

Wee Gems, the West Lothian-based nursery chain, is expanding into Edinburgh following a £270,000 finance deal with Clydesdale Bank.

The company, which already has branches in Broxburn and Livingston, has bought the Croileagan nursery and plans to create ten jobs.

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Founder Mahyar Mortazavi expects turnover to rise to £1.7 million from £1.3m following the takeover. He added: “We were running out of time to conclude the deal. Incredibly, Clydesdale Bank was able to arrange a suitable funding package in just one week.”