Business Briefs - 20th March

Britain’s public finances improved in February leaving government borrowing down a third on a year earlier.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed tax receipts from self-assessment were £4.2bn, up £1.8bn on last February.

January and February are the months when taxpayers who have not made full payments under PAYE make the bulk of their payments to the revenue.

February’s government borrowing totalled £6.9bn, a fall of £3.5bn.

HSBC, the UK’s largest bank, has announced a board level reshuffle.

Sir Simon Robertson is stepping down as senior independent director and remuneration committee chairman.

Fomer Bank of England deputy governor Rachel Lomax will become the senior independent director and the former Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw will chair the remuneration committee.

The move comes a month after it was reported that HSBC’s Swiss private banking business helped customers evade taxes between 2005-07.

Ms Lomax and Mr Laidlow have been on the board since 2008.

Sir Simon, who has been on the board for nine years has agreed to stay on as deputy chairman for another year.

Aberdeen City Council has welcomed confirmation from UK Chancellor George Osborne of a £2.9bn City Region Deal for Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen.

Councillor Jenny Laing and Councillor Jim Gifford, respectively leaders of Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, each welcomed the news mentioned in the Chancellor’s budget announcement.

Councillor Laing said: “I am delighted for Aberdeen and the whole of North-east Scotland that the Chancellor has today indicated he is willing to enter formal discussions on a City Region Deal with our officials. The proposals we have outlined will ensure the prosperity of our city and North-east Scotland for decades to come by anchoring an economy of global significance for the benefit of the UK as a whole. I am looking forward to developing detailed plans that will bring more jobs and opportunity for our region.”

Councillor Gifford said: “Today is a watershed moment for the Aberdeen City Region – a true recognition by Government that oil and gas underpins the UK economy and a commitment to the future growth and prosperity of the region that supports the industry. This is the start of a negotiation with both UK and Scottish Governments that will shape the region for many years to come.”

The deal and aims to release £2.9bn for infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years, supported by an economic strategy focusing on internationalisation, innovation and skills.

A Scottish confectionery firm has secured a contract to launch a range of fudge products across the French market.

Tilly Confectionery, which produces the Mrs Tilly’s range of Scottish tablet, fudge and macaroon, will see its products on French shelves next month.

Stockists will include major retailers such as Monoprix and E.Leclerc.

Tilly, based in Larbert, near Falkirk, said forecasts suggested sales could exceed 100,000 units in the first year.

Tilly has been expanding overseas in recent years, with new export markets including Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the US.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer is set to build his first course in Scotland, according to developers.

Castle Stuart Golf Links said the Arnold Palmer Group is to collaborate on a new 18-hole links course on the Moray Firth near Inverness.

It added that the new venture would complement the existing course at Castle Stuart, which opened in 2009.

Plans for the new course are expected to be submitted within two months.

It is envisaged work will get under way early next year, ahead of the return of the Scottish Open to Castle Stuart for the fourth time in six years.

It is planned to have the new links open for use by 2019.

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