Here are six of today’s key business stories in one handy package.
Major investors are expected to back Shell’s troubled £36 billion takeover of rival BG Group this week, despite reservations that the plunging oil price has made the deal less attractive than when first unveiled last year. David Cumming, head of equities at Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments, has been one of the most high-profile opponents of the merger, calling it “value destructive for Shell shareholders”.
Shares in oil and gas technology firm Plexus Holdings tumbled after it warned annual results would be “very significantly” below City hopes. The Aberdeen-based firm said the slump in oil prices had led to a slowdown in activity among its customers “to the extent that it cannot see the reduced activity levels being recovered in the current financial year”.
A Chinese automotive major was reportedly putting the final touches to a £200 million takeover approach for bus maker Alexander Dennis. It is thought Shanghai-listed Yutong has held preliminary talks with the Falkirk company, which has 2,000 staff and produces buses for major transport operators north of the Border such as FirstGroup and Stagecoach.
Accountancy major PwC is expanding its cyber-security practice with the acquisition of Praxism, an Edinburgh-based consultancy specialising in identity and access management. Praxism’s founder and director, Derek Gordon, and 13 employees will join PwC’s Edinburgh office, with one specialist based in Leeds.
Shopfitting specialist Havelock Europa saw its shares jump after reporting a boost to its order book. The Fife-based interiors firm, which issued a profit warning in November, also said that its cost-cutting efforts, including a 10 per cent reduction in its workforce, were “gaining momentum”.
Manufacturers are having a “flat” start to the year, with only limited signs of a recovery in exports, new research showed. The CBI said production and orders showed signs of stabilising in the last three months, but business optimism has fallen.