Business news in brief 12/03/2012

A roundup of the latest business news

Renewables giant opens Scots base

FRENCH power giant Areva is to open a renewable energy office in Edinburgh, boosting Scotland’s chances of attracting a major offshore wind turbine manufacturer to the country.

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Offices on George Street have been leased to house a team of 12 business development staff, who will try to win orders for the company’s offshore turbines from wind farm developers.

Areva, 90 per cent of which is owned by the French government, is best known for its nuclear power operations but is trying to compete with established players such as Siemens and Vestas in the wind turbine market.

Buyers eye £2bn of shopping centres

OVERSEAS buyers were thought to be circling two major UK shopping centres yesterday in separate deals valuing the assets at almost £2 billion.

The giant Meadowhall shopping centre in South Yorkshire – one of the UK’s biggest malls, with 30 million visitors a year – has attracted the attention of sovereign wealth funds such as China’s CIC, according to a Sunday newspaper report. Meanwhile, the Duke of Westminster’s property company, Grosvenor, is understood to be selling Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

‘Key players’ see hard times ahead

NEARLY three-quarters of entrepreneurs think it will be “difficult” for them to access external capital in the year ahead, according to a survey out today from Investec Bank.

Instead, 87 per cent of the business owners interviewed by the lender will resort to using their own retained profits in order to grow their companies, while one in five said they may turn to private equity.

Ed Cottrell, from Investec, said: “The ‘entrepreneurial class’ has a key role to play in helping the UK economy to grow. Some clearly have concerns about raising capital.”

GKN ‘set for £800m Volvo air takeover’

ENGINEERING heavyweight GKN was yesterday reported to be on the brink of an £800 million deal to buy Volvo’s aircraft business.

The potential swoop by GKN, which employs 40,000 people and has operations across the UK, would be one of the biggest acquisitions by a British manufacturing firm since the banking crisis.

It would also represent a major boost to GKN’s aerospace division, which last year recorded sales of £1.5 billion and is a supplier of aircraft components to both Airbus and Boeing.