Scottish Business Briefing – January 23rd 2014

No evidence of wrongdoing at RBS was found. Picture: Julie Bull
No evidence of wrongdoing at RBS was found. Picture: Julie Bull
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WELCOME to’s Scottish Business Briefing. Every morning we bring you a comprehensive round-up of all news affecting business in Scotland today.


‘No evidence’ found of RBS wrongdoing

A REPORT which claimed that Royal Bank of Scotland had deliberately driven small firms out of business to make money was questioned in the Commons yesterday. Sir Andrew Large, the author of another report into state-backed RBS’s lending to smaller businesses, said he found no evidence of the bank engineering companies into default. The claim was made in a report drawn up by Lawrence Tomlinson, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ entrepreneur in residence.

Saracen fund outperforms its benchmark

THE £31 million Saracen Growth Fund, run by veteran asset manager Jim Fisher and Craig Yeaman, has trounced its benchmark index in its latest year with strong showings from holdings including broadcaster STV. Mr Yeaman said that Saracen Growth Fund, which is run from Edinburgh, had achieved a total return of 34.7% in 2013. This was way ahead of a return of 20.8% on its benchmark, the FTSE All-Share Index.

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Swinney blames fall in exports on UK ‘austerity’

Finance secretary John Swinney has blamed a fresh slide in exports on fragile conditions in the eurozone and the UK government’s austerity drive. Official data released yesterday showed that whisky exports were hit particularly hard during the third quarter of 2013, while the engineering and petrochemicals sectors reversed the previous quarter’s gains.

Unemployment in UK reaches a five-year low

UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen to its lowest level in five years after 280,000 jobs were created in the UK, new figures show. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) report shows that the jobless total across the UK fell faster than expected in the quarter to November to 2.32 million – a rate of 7.1 per cent and within a whisker of the Bank of England’s trigger point for considering raising interest rates.

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Faroe wins ten exploration licences in Norway

Faroe Petroleum, the Aberdeen-based oil and gas explorer, has been awarded ten new exploration licences from the Norwegian government. The firm said the win was its largest to date and joint largest in this licensing round, equal to the number of licences picked up by Centrica and Statoil.The licences relate to both Norway’s portion of the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

Selkirk firm strikes energy deal with Morgan Stanley

SELKIRK-based Spark Energy has signed its first ever wholesale trading agreement by committing to buying all of its gas and electricity from Morgan Stanley Commodities, writes Scott Wright. The company, which employs 200 staff at its Borders headquarters, said the deal allows it to access wholesale markets while allowing it to provide competitive energy prices.

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Scotsman Conference

The Digital Fabric of Scotland: The Challenge of stitching it together - 29th January – Edinburgh

Join us and the Scottish Council on Archives as we bring the first event of its kind to Scotland. Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs and Annelies van den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History are among some of the expert speakers that will aim to raise awareness of digital records among key decision makers across different sectors, help build a Scottish digital records community to collaborate on finding the best technological solutions and securing investment and examine the options for ensuring long term access to valuable digital resources. Visit the Scotsman Conferences website for more details.

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