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Business roundup for Spain and the UK

Airbus bait Airbus could expand its Albacete plant if a future subsidy from the Spanish government comes through.

Spain owns 4 per cent of Airbus and the government wants the company increase its investment in the country, according to reports from Bloomberg.

The installation on the outskirts of Albacete city produces components destined for civilian and military helicopters and expanding the plant would fit in with government plans to attract more industrial and arms’ investment.

In March 2022,Madrid announced plans to allocate European Union recovery funds to the aerospace and aeronautical sector.  This was followed in December that year by loans totalling €2.4 billion to Airbus.

According to Bloomberg, no decision has yet been made regarding the subsidy which would need EU authorisation and also comply with World Trade Organisation requirements.

Barratt deal Barratt has bought its smaller housebuilding rival, Redrow, in a deal that topped £2.5 billion (€2.9 billion).

The two companies, which had a combined market value of £7.2 billion when markets closed on February 6, negotiated an all-share offer establishing Barratt as the UK’s largest housing constructor.

Barratt Redrow, the merged companies’ new name, will build 23,000 homes annually with a predicted £7 billion (€8.2 billion) turnover.

Both boards backed the transaction, as well as Steve Morgan, who founded Redrow 50 years ago with a £5,000 loan (€5,861) from his father and still holds 16 per cent of its shares.

Cheaper transfers All European banks must now offer their clients immediate transfers free of charge or at the same price as the ordinary procedure.

The European parliament approved the measure on February 4, with 599 votes in favour, seven against and 55 abstentions.

“Charging a different commission for immediate transfers is now banned,” explained Spanish Euro MP Jonas Fernandez who was part of the Economic Affairs and Monetary Committee which worked on the new legislation.

“This will make bank charges cheaper, because some banks in Spain take a commission on immediate transfers but will no longer be able to do so,” Fernandez told financial daily, Cinco Dias.

Boss needed Shares in NatWest, bailed out by the British government in 2008, could go on sale to the public by June 2023.

Before it can do so, Charles Donald, the UK Government Investments (UKGI) chief, told a parliamentary committee that the bank should first name a successor to Dame Alison Rose, who resigned as chief executive following last year’s debanking scandal involving former politician Nigel Farage.

Either Rose’s interim substitute Paul Thwaite should be confirmed in the role, or a permanent chief executive appointed, Donald said.

Oil from the US The US now provides most of Spain’s oil, obtained via fracking.

Despite its environmental drawbacks, the controversial process is bearing fruit in the US which exported more than 8.7 million tons of oil to Spain in 2023.  That was 31.2 per cent more than in 2022, according to recent figures from the Petroleum Products Strategic Reserves Corporation (Cores).

This has put the US ahead of Nigeria, which after five years as Spain’s principal supplier has now dropped in fourth place after Mexico and Brazil.

Spain currently imports lesser amounts from at least 22 other countries worldwide, excluding Russia, with total imports falling by 3.3 per cent in 2023 to just under 61.56 million tons.

Wind power ploy Kraft Heinz intends to build a £40 million (€46.9 million) green-powered hydrogen plant at its Kitt Green (Wigan) baked bean factory.

The parent company has now signed an agreement with energy firm Carlton Power to produce plans for the future installation.

The factory where a staff of 850 produce baked beans, soups and spaghetti hoops would produce hydrogen from renewable sources, principally wind and solar power.   This should cover more than half of the factory’s annual natural gas needs while reducing its carbon emissions by roughly 16,000 tons a year.

Hotel tactics Inditex founder Amancio Ortega has chosen Portugal’s second largest hotel chain, Vila Gale, to run one of the 18 hotels he owns there.

Hotel Mercure in Figueira da Foz, which Ortega acquired in 2004, was formerly managed by the Accor group and reopens following extensive renovations to its 102 rooms, two restaurants, bar, spa and other installations in April this year.

Vila Gale had a record turnover of €275 million in 2023 and its chairman Jorge Rebelo de Almeida, who is worth an estimated €1 billion, plans to enter the Spanish market with a 300-bedroomed hotel in Huelva in April.

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