Here are five of today’s key business stories in one handy package.
Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust acquired a portfolio of 22 commercial properties, including a P&O warehouse in Dover, for £165 million. The fund said the purchase, from Aviva Investors, would improve its liquidity and boost the size of its gross assets by 50 per cent.
Official figures showed the UK economy grew at 0.5 per cent in final three months of last year, up from 0.4 per cent in the third quarter, but annual expansion slowed amid global trade woes and falling commodity prices. The first estimate from the Office for National Statistics revealed that gross domestic product eased to 2.2 per cent in 2015, down from 2.9 per cent the year before.
Energy supplier SSE said it would be cutting household gas prices by 5.3 per cent on 29 March. The move, which will save the typical customer on its standard gas tariff about £32 a year, was announced as the Perth-based utility revealed it had lost 300,000 customers across Britain and Ireland between March and December.
Transport giant FirstGroup lowered its profit outlook after it was hit by flooding in the UK and driver shortages in the US. In a third-quarter trading update, the Aberdeen-based group said revenues at its First Bus arm had been affected by lower-than-forecast footfall on Britain’s high streets, combined with “exceptionally” wet weather and flooding in some markets.
An Inverness mill that produces wood-based boards for the construction sector is to expand with a £95m investment. Canadian group Norbord said the cash injection will almost double the production capacity at its Murrayhill plant, which was the first in Europe to manufacture oriented strand board.