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Thursday, March 12th, 2015


Thur City brief: TSB leads market after bid

New figures showing the UK trade balance making an unexpectedly sharp improvement lifted the market. The deficit on sales of goods overseas shrank to £8.4 billion in January, better than the £9.7bn consensus forecast. TSB and Lloyds shares led the corporate risers following the offer for TSB from Sabadell. TSB surged 25%, helping shares in 50% owner Lloyds higher. RBS was also making gains after Investec raised its stance from ‘sell’ to ‘hold’ following an 11% drop in the shares since the bank’s annual results two weeks ago. Mining stocks were on the rebound after recent China-relatedRead More

Business Comment: Terry Murden

Faster, quieter, longer, but not built here

Hitachi trains

Celebrations have already begun to mark the arrival in two years time of a new fleet of trains on the ScotRail service. They will be quieter, faster and longer. But they won’t be British. Scotland, like the rest of the UK, is steadily distancing itself from building or operating anything home grown. From 2017 rail passengers will be served by a Dutch firm operating Japanese-built trains. How many former rail workers will watch wistfully from the windows of the high rise flats in Springburn as the first Tokyo-engineered train makesRead More

Investment secured for growth

Pioneering ‘whisky fuel’ firm raises £500,000

Martin Tangney

A company that produced the world’s first biofuel capable of powering cars from whisky residues has received £500,000 in a new round of investment, taking its valuation to £10million. Celtic Renewables has raised £250,000 from the Scottish Investment Bank, he investment arm of Scottish enterprise, with a further £250,000 equity stake from an existing private investor. The cash boost was announced at a reception in Edinburgh by Professor Martin Tangney (pictured), the founder and president of Celtic Renewables, and Paul Lewis, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise. It follows theRead More

Tycoon finds buyer for chain store group

Green sells high street struggler Bhs to retail acquisitions vehicle

High street billionaire Sir Philip Green has sold department store struggler Bhs to little-known group Retail Acquisitions for an undisclosed sum, believed to £1. The Arcadia boss, whose empire includes Burton, Miss Selfridge and Top Shop, has owned the fading chain for nearly 15 years. Bhs has 171 stores and 11,000 employees, but is loss-making. It has narrowed its pretax losses but Sir Philip, who tried to buy Marks & Spencer in 2006, said he was happy to find a buyer who wants to develop the brand. He said one of his clearRead More

Partnership feeling the pinch

John Lewis profits hit as Waitrose caught in price war

John Lewis

Supermarket chain Waitrose suffered a slump in profits as it was forced to slash prices to compete with discount rivals Aldi and Lidl. A determined search for bargains even among the wealthier grocery shoppers saw the chain’s operating profits dive by 23.4%, dragging down profits at its owner,  John Lewis Partnership, by 9%. It meant John Lewis has been forced to to cut its staff bonus payout for a second straight year. The profits collapse overshadowed the fact that Waitrose has been winning customers, up 6% over the year and againstRead More

Spanish bank's offer likely to be accepted

TSB expected to fall to £1.7 billion bid approach from Spanish bank

TSB logo

TSB is expected to end its short-lived independence by accepting a £1.73 billion bid approach from Spanish bank Sabadell. A proposed offer at 340p per share from Spain’s fifth biggest bank comes less than a year after TSB was carved out of Lloyds and floated at 280p per share valuing the company at £1.3bn. The TSB board said in a statement that “it would be willing to recommend an offer at the proposed price, subject to reaching agreement on the other terms and conditions of any offer. “Accordingly, the board isRead More

Serco to raise £555m in a rights issue at 101p, a 51% discount to last night’s close; will reduce debt; no final divi for 2014 or for 2015

Former RBS chief at reins of new bank

Mathewson leads challenger bank Shawbrook to flotation

Former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman and chief executive Sir George Mathewson is to lead another bank on to the stock market. Sir George (pictured) has been chairman of Shawbrook, the challenger bank, since it was formed in 2011 as one of a number of new “challenger” banks that sprung after the financial crash of 2008. It has built a business model focused on providing loans to small and medium-sized businesses. Sir George, however, has indicated that he will only see the  company through admission to the London Stock Exchange andRead More

Challenge facing new CEO

Morrisons suffers eight year low with slump in profits

Morrisons supermarkets unveiled its worst performance in eight years with profits plunging by half as it became the biggest casualty among the big four of a price war with the discounters. Underlying pretax profit fell 52% to £345 million in the year to 1 February and is the third consecutive year of falling profits. The bottom line loss, including impairments, increased to £792m. Incoming chief executive Dave Potts, who replaces Dalton Phillips, will carry out a review of operations and provide a more detailed statement. Company chairman Andrew Higginson acknowledgedRead More