Business Roundup for Spain and the UK

Business Roundup for Spain and the UK

IBERDROLA: Chairman Ignacio Galan visits an offshore windfarm in the UK Photo credit: Iberdrola

Colour it green Iberdrola, Spain’s biggest electricity company has accused Repsol, the country’s biggest oil company, of greenwashing.

Months of behind-the-scenes skirmishing were finally made public on March 18 when Iberdrola launched legal proceedings in Santander (Cantabria) where it is based.

Repsol’s advertising campaigns included “deception and misleading omissions” regarding the company’s environmental commitment, Iberdola said.

Repsol attempted to depict itself as an energy transition leader but was Spain’s “largest emitter of greenhouse gases”, a 107-page document submitted to the Santander court maintained.

This also pointed out that Repsol had already been sanctioned on two occasions by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making similar greenwashing claims in its British campaigns.

Asked to comment, a Repsol spokesperson said the lawsuit was “groundless” and claimed that its green credentials “created nervousness” at Iberdrola.

Grape profits Spanish private equity firm ProA Capital has engaged Deutsche Bank to sell its holding in seedless grape production company, Moyca.

ProA paid €200 million for a 50 per cent stake in 2016, ahead of other funds like Alantra or MCH.

Moyca president Enrique Moya has a 15 per cent holding in the company, while founders, the Canovas family, own more than 30 per cent.

In 2021, the last year for which official records are available, Moyca reported a €144 million turnover and net profits of €5 million.

After eight years, ProA calculates that Moyca, which finished 2023 with a gross profit of €25 million, should bring in approximately €400 million, double its original investment.

Virgin doubts Nationwide is facing calls to consult its 16 million members regarding £2.9 billion (€3.7 billion) plans to take over Virgin Money.

On March 7, the building society announced a preliminary agreement to pay its rival’s shareholders 220p (€2.58) for each share, a 38 per cent premium on Virgin Money’s current  price.  The deal, if allowed to go ahead, would produce the UK’s second-largest savings and loans group with 700 branches and assets of £366.3 billion (€428.8 billion).

It would also mean taking on the Northern Rock mortgage business while providing Sir Richard Branson with an a £400 million (€468.3 million).

Inventive Spain Spanish designers and innovators presented a record 2,111 applications to patent their inventions in 2023.

According to figures released by the European Union, the European Patent Office (EPO) processed 199,275 patents in 2023, an average increase of 2.9 per cent on 2022.

Spain’s applications rose by 6.9 per cent, the EPO revealed, most coming from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), which submitted 80 patent requests, with a total of 167 from the country’s universities and research centres.

Global technology company Amadeus filed 47 applications, followed by Multiverse Computing (24), Telefonica (17) and the Tecnalia Research & Innovation Foundation (17).

Veiled warning Mike Regnier, chief executive of Santander UK, said that Britain was an “unattractive” place for investment owing to its high taxes.

Talking to the Treasury Select Committee, Regnier explained to MPs that Britain’s tax rates were higher than those of many other countries which Santander UK had to contend with.

“Even in a really good year, the level of returns that we’re able to make in the UK aren’t as high as the shareholders of our parent company would expect,” he pointed out, in an oblique reference to Spain-based Santander.

Nice work Twenty-three Inditex executives earned €116.5 million between them in 2023, an 11 per cent increase on 2022 and a new record for the company.

This does not include Inditex chief executive Oscar Garcia Maceiras, but covers members of the boards of Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti and Bershka, together with high-ranking employees responsible for Inditex’s Finance, Sustainability, Human Resources and Online departments.

As well as the executives’ salaries and bonuses, the €116.5 million included severance pay for those who left the company in 2023.

Lighten up The British American Tobacco (BAT) dismissed rumours that it could leave London to list in New York.

Tadeu Marroco, BAT’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that he doubted the benefits were as evident as some reports claimed.

“There is nothing to suggest that it’s a no-brainer to go to the US,” he said, insisting that BAT was committed to Britain despite legislation disclosed at the Conservative party’s 2023 conference.

This would eliminate smoking by increasing the legal age by one year from 2027 onwards.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.

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