Quindell’s professional services division, a provider of legal, claims management, health and medical reporting services, has been acquired by Slater and Gordon for £637m. Following the sale Quindell will focus on its insurance related technology businesses.
Geely, the Chinese owner of the London Taxi Company, is to invest £250m to build a new 85,000 square metre research, development and assembly facility in the Ansty area of Coventry. Up to 1,000 new jobs will be created through the investment in the site, which will eventually have the capacity to assemble up to 36,000 vehicles a year. The London Taxi Company is developing the next generation London Black Cab, an ultra-low emissions vehicle, which will be launched in the UK at the end of 2017. The new vehicle will comply with new regulations being introduced by the Mayor of London that will reduce the level of emissions allowed from new taxis from January 2018. More than 130,000 London Black Cabs have been produced at the London Taxi Company’s existing Coventry site since 1948. Geely rescued the London Taxi Company out of administration in 2013 and this is the largest ever greenfield investment in the UK by a Chinese company. The investment is being backed with funding from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund and other UK and local government support.
HSBC is to set up a new headquarters in Birmingham for its retail bank, moving around 1,000 employees from its London office. The move is in response to legislation that forces banks to ring-fence their riskier investment banking activities from their retail banking businesses. Birmingham was the original base of Midland Bank, which was taken over by HSBC in 1992.
The food companies HJ Heinz and Kraft Foods Group have agreed to merge in a deal which creates the fifth largest food and drink company in the world. Heinz will own a 51% stake and Kraft a 49% stake in The Kraft Heinz Company. Heinz specialises in ketchup, sauces, meals, soups, snacks and baby food. Kraft is a North American grocery foods business. The deal does not include Mondelez International, owner of the Cadbury brand, which split away from Kraft in 2012.
In February the rate of inflation in the UK fell to zero, the lowest rate on record. The fall from 0.3% in January was due to downward price movements for data processing equipment, books, games, toys & hobbies, food and furniture & furnishings.
The Spanish bank Sabadell has agreed a £1.7bn deal to buy TSB, a challenger bank which specialises in retail and small business banking. TSB was formed following a European Commission ruling which insisted on Lloyds TSB being split into two separate companies. Sabadell believes the UK banking market, in particular the challenger bank sector in which TSB is a leading competitor, offers a strong regulatory framework, profitability and good growth prospects.
The research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie has been acquired by the American data analytics company Verisk Analytics. Established in 1974, Wood Mackenzie is a provider of commercial intelligence for the energy, chemicals, metals and mining sectors. The £1.85bn deal makes Verisk one of the leading providers of data analytics to the global energy market.
Arcadia Group has sold the retailer BHS to Retail Acquisitions Ltd. With 171 stores across the UK, BHS specialises in selling clothing, kitchenware, soft furnishings and accessories. Retail Acquisitions is a newly formed investment vehicle led by businessman Keith Smith, who aims to “return BHS to profitability, and safeguard the workforce.”
Wolseley has moved to establish itself in the online bathroom retail market with the acquisition of BathEmpire.com. Established in 2009, BathEmpire.com has a turnover of £26m and has 150 employees.
The National Minimum Wage for adults is to increase by 20p to £6.70 per hour from 1 October 2015. From the same date the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will go up 17p to £5.30 an hour while the 16 to 17 year old rate will increase by 8p from £3.79 to £3.87. The National Minimum Wage rate for apprentices will increase by 57p from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour.