Deals rise as recovery prospects improve

A SHARP rise in the number of business deals in Edinburgh in the first quarter of the year is fuelling hopes of a recovery in activity among Scotland's larger companies.

Lloyds Banking Group has reported a 50 per cent rise in "work in progress" in the capital compared with the first quarter of 2009. The bank's corporate markets team for Edinburgh and the east of Scotland has also seen a significant increase in inquiry levels as large businesses start exploring finance opportunities to support recovery and growth.

The Edinburgh team has already provided facilities totalling more than 55 million to three businesses since December and last week announced that it had supported Scottish Resources Group with a 43.5m package of support.

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Further "significant opportunities" are said to be in the final stages of development that will take its recent lending to more than 100m.

The figures come after Lloyds corporate markets in Edinburgh doubled the size of its team to 12 as part of a nationwide expansion to the teams dedicated to supporting business customers. The corporate markets division provides financial banking and advisory services to businesses and organisations with a turnover above 15m.

Mark Prentice, area director, said: "The priority for Scotland's large businesses is still to strengthen their balance sheets. However, some sectors are proving more resilient than others and are better placed to implement growth plans when the right opportunities arise. Food and drink is one such sector."