Business news in brief: Blackstone | FSA | Scottish Friendly

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AMERICAN private equity giant Blackstone is reportedly poised to sell its half-share in one of the City of London’s most iconic office and leisure complexes, Broadgate, for up to seven times what it paid for it.

British Land sold the 50 per cent stake in Broadgate to Blackstone in November 2009 for £75 million. The private equity firm is understood to want to capitalise on soaring Square Mile property prices.

A sale at recent valuation prices for Broadgate – which includes the offices of UBS and Icap and a temporary open-air ice rink – would net Blackstone an estimated £525m.

Small firms fear FSA is ‘under pressure’

CAMPAIGN group Bully-Banks has warned small firms allegedly mis-sold interest rate swap agreements that it fears the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will be put under pressure by the government and banks to limit redress in 40,000 cases.

Campaigners said there was a “pressing need” for the FSA to stipulate what fair and reasonable redress meant, claiming this “fundamental issue” was unresolved seven months after the regulator unveiled its compensation scheme. On Thursday, the FSA is due to report on a pilot review of 200 cases.

Pension schemes close at fastest rate

THE private sector closed the door to final salary pension schemes for new staff at the fastest ever rate last year, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has revealed in a new report out today.

Just 13 per cent of final salary pensions were open to joiners in 2012, against 19 per cent in 2011. It was the steepest fall since data began to be compiled in 2005, when 43 per cent of the more generous pensions were open to new staff.

The NAPF survey also reveals that 31 per cent of companies closed final salary schemes to existing staff.

‘Core’ sales up 35% at Scottish Friendly

Scottish Friendly will today unveil a 35 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for its core life insurance and pensions business to £8.5 million during 2012.

The mutual society said it had reaped the benefits of its online savings accounts and partnership deals with companies including Beagle Street, which is part of the group behind insurance website

A like-for-like figure will be given following the sale of its “wrap” administration business to CitiGroup. Scottish Friendly said it was not yet ready to release a profit figure.