Business briefs: BP | Interserve | Murgitroyd | Lookers

OIL giant BP is suing the US government after it was barred from winning new federal contracts in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The firm was banned from obtaining new contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which accused it of a “lack of business integrity” following the 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and caused a devastating oil spill.

BP said: “We believe that the EPA’s action here is inappropriate and unjustified as a matter of law and policy, and we are pursuing our right to seek relief in federal court.”

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Interserve shrugs off tough conditions

Support services and construction firm Interserve, which is involved in a £200 million development near Edinburgh’s Haymarket train station, has overcome “subdued” market conditions to deliver a 7.6 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £36.8m for the first six months of the year.

The Reading-based group, which saw revenues grow 8.6 per cent to £1.1 billion, also said its Landmarc subsidiary has been awarded a one-year contract extension, worth £110m, to help manage military training facilities for the Ministry of Defence.

Murgitroyd remains patently confident

Patent attorney Murgitroyd has told investors that its full-year results should be “broadly” in line with market expectations.

The Glasgow-based firm, which announced a slight rise in first-half profits to £2.27 million in February, said its board “remains confident about the future prospects of the group”.

Aim-quoted Murgitroyd, which has 15 offices across eight countries, is due to release its annual results early next month.

The company said earlier this year that it was considering the expansion of its operations in France and the US.

Buoyant car market gives Lookers a lift

Car dealer Lookers has reported a 20 per cent surge in half-year profits to £28 million and said the recovering new car market should give it a further boost in the second half.

The firm also said Peter Jones, its chief executive since 2009, is to retire in December. He will be replaced by chief operating officer Andy Bruce.

Lookers, which last year bought Glasgow-based Lomond Motors for £15m, said new car sales grew 19 per cent during the six months to the end of June, ahead of the 17 per cent growth experienced by the market as a whole.