Here are the top business stories making the headlines in the morning newspapers.

Repsol becomes full owner of joint venture

Spain’s Repsol and China’s Sinopec have ended an eight-year dispute with a $2.1billion (£1.67billion) deal.

This will see Repsol become full owner of joint venture Repsol Sinopec Resources UK.

Sinopec launched proceedings back in 2015 over the price paid by its subsidiary – Addax – for 49% of the business (then Canadian-led Talisman Energy’s UK North Sea business) arguing the $1.5billion price was too high.

Energy Voice says the Chinese firm wanted further compensation to cover “any additional investment” and “loss of opportunity”.

A deal has now been struck where Repsol will acquire Sinopec’s 49% stake in Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, meaning the Spanish firm becomes 100% owner.

Aberdeen-headquartered Repsol Sinopec has 884 employees, according to latest accounts filed on Companies House.

Proposal for free ebike rides for council staff

Aberdeen councillors have been urged to spend £10,000 of bus lane fines on free ebike rides for council staff.

Every year, the council generates huge sums of money from fining people for breaking bus lane and bus-gate rules.

But all of this cash is ringfenced, and must be spent on transport or infrastructure projects.

These projects, for example, include improving paths for schools or replacing bus shelters.

For the 2023-24 financial year, councillors have been recommended to approve spending £1,873,591 from fines to take forward 26 different projects across the city.

One of these is committing £10,000 towards free hires for its staff with the Big Issue Ebikes rental scheme, which launched last November.

The Press & Journal says the local authority hopes that, by getting more people visibly out on the ebikes, it will help to “give a good impression of a successful scheme”.

New auditor for SNP

The SNP has signed a contract with a new auditor more than six months after the previous firm quit.

The SNP's Westminster group risks losing £1.2million of public funding if it does not submit audited accounts by May 31.

Group leader Stephen Flynn told the BBC he was now confident that the deadline would be met.

The party must also file its audited accounts with the Electoral Commission in July.

Humza Yousaf, the SNP's leader and Scotland's First Minister, said Manchester-based AMS Accountants Group had agreed to complete the accounts for both the party and its Westminster group.

Profits soar at Ashtead Technology

Ashtead Technology, an Aberdeenshire-based subsea-equipment firm, saw profits leap in 2022 on higher activity levels and recent acquisitions.

Ashtead hailed “record customer backlog” with strong market outlook across oil and gas and offshore renewables.

Revenues increased 31% year on year to £73.1million, with the offshore renewables and oil and gas markets up 22% and 35% respectively.

Headcount has increased, from 204 in 2021 to 260 at year-end, after the acquisition of WeSubsea in September and Hiretech in December.

Energy Voice says that, on a pre-tax basis, profits for the firm totalled £16.3million, more than four-times those in 2021.

Branson pandemic worry

Sir Richard Branson feared he was going to lose his entire business empire during the pandemic.

The British businessman said he found a media backlash "painful" after the Virgin Group asked the UK Government for a loan to save the company.

Given his personal wealth and home on a Caribbean island, he was criticised for asking for a bailout when airline Virgin Atlantic hit trouble.

Sir Richard told the BBC he personally lost around £1.5billion during the pandemic.

American interest rate up again

The US central bank has raised the interest rate to the highest level in 16 years as it battles to stabilise prices.

The Federal Reserve increased its key interest rate by 0.25% - its 10th hike in 14 months.

The BBC says the moves have sharply raised borrowing costs across the world's largest economy, spurring a slowdown in sectors such as housing and playing a role in the recent failures of three US banks.

The Fed signalled that Wednesday's rise may be its last one for now.

The target range for its benchmark rate is now 5% to 5.25% - up from near-zero in March 2022.

Britain to ban all cold calls selling financial products

The UK is to ban all cold calls selling financial products as part of a national crackdown on scams.

Unsolicited calls offering any financial product will be covered by the ban, with a view to stopping fraudsters selling sham insurance products or cryptocurrency schemes.

A new fraud squad will also be set up with 500 staff, up from 120 now.

But the BBC says Labour and the Lib Dems called the plans "too little, too late".

Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, with one in 15 people falling victim.

Last summer, 41million people were targeted by suspicious calls and texts, according to media regulator Ofcom. However, most fraud now has an online element, data suggests.

Dyson in £100million investment

Engineering giant Dyson plans to invest £100million in a new research and development hub in central Bristol.

The BBC says the technology centre would be home to hundreds of software and artificial intelligence engineers, the company said.

Dyson said it had chosen Bristol because it was an "international hub for software and digital skills".

Pay row at Coca-Cola

Supplies of Coca-Cola could be hit if workers at Europe's biggest soft drinks factory vote to stage industrial action in a row over pay.

Hundreds of staff at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners in Wakefield are being balloted because the union said its offer of a 6% pay rise was below inflation.

Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson said a strike would "inevitably put supplies" of soft drinks, including Coca-Cola, at risk over the summer.

But Coca-Cola Europacific Partners told the BBC it was putting "robust" measures in place to protect supplies.

More like this…

View all