Greenock’s cruise ship market is set to receive a major boost as work nears completion on major new berthing facilities, capable of handling some of the world’s largest and most luxurious cruise liners. 

A 200m floating pontoon is being built which will be able to accommodate super ships up to 340m long.

The £19.2m project, led by Inverclyde Council, is part of the £1bn, Glasgow City Region City Deal which is funded equally by the Scottish and UK governments.

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The pontoon is made up of four, approximately 1,000 tonne, concrete caissons - each the size of a small ship. The caissons are currently under construction at the massive Inchgreen dry dock in Greenock and work on them is expected to be finished in February. Once complete they will be towed out of the dock and secured to piles driven into the seabed.

Greenock’s Ocean Terminal, owned and operated by Peel Ports, is already a popular destination for cruise ships. The new facilities are expected to increase visitor numbers to some 150,000 passengers a year, providing a £26m boost to the Scottish economy.

Visitors will step from the pontoon into the new, state-of-the-art, Ocean Terminal - an iconic design which forms the shore-side component of the project. Work on the terminal building is expected to start this year.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, Leader of Inverclyde Council, said, “This is a very impressive feat of civil engineering which highlights the value of the Inchgreen dry dock as a maritime resource.

“The project is key part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal. The new visitor centre at the Greenock Ocean Terminal is expected to make a significant contribution to economic growth and international tourism across the wider city region area.

“The Ocean Terminal started as a container terminal but Peel Ports has significantly expanded the cruise ship side of the business over recent years. These new berthing facilities will help to support that growth and are a vote of confidence in Greenock.”

Spirits giant Diageo is set to post higher half-year profits and sales as investors wait to learn the impact of US tariffs on its whisky brands.

The Talisker and Singleton maker saw its Scotch whisky exports to the US hit with a 25% tariff on single malt at the end of last year.

The impact of the tax on Diageo will be revealed when it issues its first-half trading update on Thursday January 30.

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"Alcohol has been one of the areas targeted with additional tariffs in recent trade clashes, so investors will be keen to hear Diageo has weathered the storm so far," said Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Nicholas Hyett.

"The group exports Scotch whisky around the world, has invested heavily in Asia, and been growing its US bourbon business."

However, shareholders will hope that the company's raft of blended whisky brands, including Johnny Walker and Buchanan's, will help to reduce the impact, as these were exempt from October's wave of tariffs.

Despite the potential impact of the US government's taxation, analysts have forecast 4.2% organic net sales growth for the six months to December.

They also expect organic operating profit growth of 4% for the period, rising to 6% by the end of the financial year.

In September, Diageo hailed a "good start" to the financial year but warned investors that it is "not immune" to global trade tensions.

The Guinness owner saw operating profits jump by 9% to £4 billion in its last full financial year.

Investors will also be keen to see how drinks trends have been progressing over the six months and whether Diageo's focus on premium brands is bearing fruit.

Premiumisation has been a key trend in drinks for a number of years but Fever-Tree's disappointing festive trading update may raise questions over long-term growth for premium brands.

However, Mr Hyett said Diageo's "more global and more diversified" business may help to protect it from any slowdown in the trend.

Virgin Money has kicked off the hunt for a new chairman after a major re-branding effort following its takeover by CYBG.

Jim Pettigrew, a veteran of the City, will step down from the role in September 2021, the business announced on Friday.

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"The board has therefore initiated a search process to allow time to identify his successor and enable an orderly handover," it said in a short statement to investors.

It will mean that Mr Pettigrew will have served for nine years on the board, ensuring he does not fall foul of official guidance on how board tenures.

It also allows Mr Pettigrew time to round off a major transformation, which started in 2018 when Virgin Money was bought by CYBG, the company behind Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank.

In October the business started re-branding, to bring all of its services under the well-known Virgin brand.

This year the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks will be changing their logos to Virgin, and Virgin Money will launch a business current account.

The B digital banking service already changed its name to Virgin Money last year.

Chief executive David Duffy last year said: "With all of our six million customers under one single banking licence, we can now offer a full suite of products, excellent customer service ethos and technology know-how across the combined business."

Mr Pettigrew, a chartered accountant, joined the company in September 2012, before becoming chairman in 2014.

The Scot has served as chief executive of CMC Markets, and sat on the boards of several major companies, including stints as the chairman of the Edinburgh Investment Trust, Miton Group and RBC Europe Limited. He was paid £410,000 by the bank last year.