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Friday newspaper round-up: SSE, Microsoft, Poundland

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SSE profits reignite high energy price row; Microsoft reports better-than-expected earnings; Poundland unveils record Christmas sales ahead of potential float.

SSE reignited the simmering row over high energy prices when it said yesterday that it was on course for a substantial increase in profits to more than £1.5bn and re-issued a call for more of its social and environmental burdens to be transferred to the taxpayer. The company, formerly known as Scottish and Southern Energy, said it expected to announce at its financial year end to 31 March that it has increased profits by 8.8% and will reward shareholders with a higher dividend. – The Guardian

Microsoft beat expectations in its second quarter on the back of strong holiday sales of consumer devices like the Xbox and business demand for cloud services that helped it outpace the rest of the enterprise market. The news eased some of Wall Street’s fears that last year’s move by outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer to push the company deeper into consumer hardware and online services would dent its profit margins. – Financial Times

The head of JPMorgan was accused of making legally “dangerous” comments after he blasted $13bn of recent settlements with the US government as “unfair”. Jamie Dimon made it clear he felt that the bank had been poorly treated over infringements ranging from interest rate rigging to mis-selling mortgage securities and ignoring warnings over Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. – The Times

George Osborne has told big business to “stop apologising” and start demonstrating its value to society to win back the public’s trust. Companies should not expect politicians to speak up for UK plc but should get on the front foot themselves, the Chancellor told a private breakfast of business leaders at the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos. His call to arms follows a series of scandals that have left the reputation of British industry in tatters. – The Times

Poundland has unveiled record Christmas sales to whet investors appetites ahead of a potential £800m float on the London Stock Exchange. The discount retailer, which sells products ranging from biscuits to dog food and washing-up liquid, said total sales increased more than 12% to nearly £350m in the three months to the end of December. – The Guardian.

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