Friday business round-up: Six key stories of the day

Clydesdale chief executive David Duffy
Clydesdale chief executive David Duffy
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Here are six of today’s key business stories in one handy package.

Glasgow-based lender Clydesdale Bank, which will float on the London market next month, said trading in the past three months has been in line with management hopes. The group, headed by chief executive David Duffy, saw annualised growth of 6.6 per cent in its mortgage book during the three months to the end of 2015.

Distress levels among Scottish businesses soared while falling elsewhere in the UK, raising fresh fears over the health of the economic recovery north of the Border. In its latest “red flag alert”, business rescue and recovery practice Begbies Traynor said critical instances of business distress showed a year-on-year jump of 11 per cent.

The competition watchdog officially approved BT’s £12.5 billion takeover of mobile phone firm EE. Authorisation from the Competition & Markets Authority will bring together the UK’s largest fixed and mobile telecoms businesses, although rivals have claimed the move would allow BT to “remonopolise” the UK telecoms sector, forcing broadband firms to use its old network.

Materials testing group Exova completed two more acquisitions as it prepares to announce its full-year figures. The Edinburgh-based group, which said in November that it was making “very good progress” with its acquisition strategy, has bought Western Technical Services and the environmental monitoring division of Manchester-based Resource & Environmental Consultants.

Energy meter specialist SMS struck deals with five domestic energy suppliers. The Glasgow-based firm, which also works with industrial and commercial clients, will provide smart energy meters for independent suppliers Flow Energy, Green Energy, Our Power, RHE and Spark Energy under the non-exclusive agreements.

Housebuilder Barratt Developments unveiled plans to open more than a dozen new sites across Scotland, ­including developments in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, in a move it said would underpin about 300 ­more jobs.