Business briefs: Hunter’s ‘chicks’ to get free PwC advice | Flexitricity | £1bn subsea group investment | Co-op’s Hardie appointment

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AccountanCY firm PwC is to offer free advice as part of a sponsorship package with Sir Tom Hunter’s Entrepreneurial Spark business incubator and accelerator programme.

The “big four” firm will support top-performing “chiclets” at the programme’s “hatcheries” in Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow through a series of workshops to be held at the three sites throughout this year.

PwC will also provide financial awards to winners of Entrepreneurial Spark’s events for fledgling business, based on how they plan, adapt and deliver winning pitches.

Flexitricity eyes public sector work

SMART electricity grid operator Flexitricity has sealed a deal with the UK government to help public sector bodies generate income from their back-up generators.

Under the deal, the Edinburgh company will help public bodies get cash from the national grid for either reducing their power consumption at peak times or feeding electricity into the grid via generators. Flexitricity, which turns over £3 million a year, expects the deal will boost sales by £2.8m over the next three years. Sites using the firm’s services can receive £100,000 a year.

Harkand eyes $1bn subsea revenues

OIL and gas industry veteran Tom Ehret yesterday unveiled plans to create a $1 billion (£640 million) subsea group following a cash injection last year by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management.

Ehret has brought Andrews Survey, Integrated Subsea Services and Iremis to create Harkand, which will focus on the maintenance, inspection and repair subsea market.

Speaking at the Subsea 2013 conference in Aberdeen, Harkand Group chief executive Nicolas Mouté added: “We are already looking into opportunities to grow our fleet.”

Co–op picks Hardie as board director

Co-operative Bank has appointed Scots-born industry veteran Graeme Hardie as a non-executive director.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Hardie has held senior roles at Royal Bank of Scotland and Abbey. He oversaw the branch integration programme following RBS’s takeover of NatWest in 2000 and later ran NatWest’s branch network.

Hardie is already a non-executive at Metro Bank.

The Co-op is expanding its banking operation with the £750 million acquisition of 632 branches from Lloyds.