Business briefs: Lloyds | Fresnillo | British Land | Barclays

Lloyds Banking Group confirmed a £400 million windfall yesterday after it took the opportunity of a high share price to sell a 20 per cent stake in wealth manager St James’s Place.

It said the placing was due to complete on Friday, as part of its strategy to simplify the group and focus on its core retail banking business.

Lloyds still has a 37 per cent interest in the FTSE 250 wealth manager.

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The sale, at 510p a share, will increase the bank’s core “tier one” capital position by £600m, equivalent to around 0.2 per cent.

• Falling silver prices and rising exploration costs pushed profits at miner Fresnillo down 19 per cent last year despite record production levels.

Profits fell to $845 million (£570m) in 2012 even though it mined a record amount of gold and silver production held steady.

The firm said it had met operational targets but profits were lower because of a number of factors: lower silver price, lower ore grades at a key mine, greater exploration expenses.

Its $318.9m exploration programme resulted in a double-digit increase in reserves.

• The owner of some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres is raising nearly £1 billion to snap up a raft of retail and office properties coming on to the market.

British Land has sold its Ropemaker Place development in London for £472 million and is launching a £500m shareholder cash-call “to fund attractive investment opportunities”.

The owner of Glasgow Fort and half of the Meadowhall shopping centre near Sheffield said it wanted to take advantage of a buyers’ market in commercial property.

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• Barclays has hired former Citigroup and Future Mortgages banker Steve James to head its team dealing with small businesses in Scotland.

Based in Glasgow as business manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland, he will lead a team of relationship managers who specialise in working with firms that have turnovers up to about £2 million.

James claimed now was a good time for businesses in Scotland to plan for sustainable growth but many business owners were missing the opportunity because they think banks will not support them.