UK slowdown confirmed as economists fear longer-term slump

Almost all parts of Britain’s economy slowed down in the first three months of the year, official figures have confirmed, with investment falling and exports failing to give growth a much-needed boost. Only part of the slump is weather-related, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, raising fears that there could be an underling slowdown…

Capita rights issue gets 97pc take-up raising £681m

Capita has raised £681m through a rights issue with almost all its investors backing the company’s plan to pay down debt and plug its pension deficit. Capita announced plans to raise £701m through the rights issue in April as part of an ambitious plan to turn the company around. The issue of one billion new…

Cancelled horse races cause GVC’s betting shops to stumble

A host of cancelled horse races due to adverse weather caused GVC’s betting shops to stumble at the start of this year but the might of its online business more than countered the impact. Boss Kenny Alexander said that in the first 20 weeks of the year, the group’s high street shops, which it acquired in…

SSE boss warns challenges will continue as profits slump 40pc

The boss of SSE has warned it will continue to face “complex challenges” this year after its annual profits fell by almost 40pc. Slumping earnings in the energy giant’s transmission and distribution arms were the main cause of the drop after it spent more on capital investment, offsetting higher profits in its retail arm. The energy giant…

Most exporters struggling to find the staff as skills shortage bites 

Britain’s exporters are struggling to grow as fast as they would like as they are enduring sustained recruitment difficulties. The low rate of unemployment means there is only a small pool of easily available labour. Companies have to compete harder to attract and retain the best staff. Two-thirds of the UK’s exporting manufacturers faced recruitment difficulties…

MailOnline hit as Facebook switches its focus off news

Facebook’s retreat from news has brought to an end years of rapid expansion by DMGT’s celebrity-fuelled website MailOnline and prompted investors to question the publisher’s growth prospects. DMGT revealed that MailOnline revenues increased by just £1m in the first half of its financial year, to £61m. The number of visitors to the website was down…

Deutsche Bank blasted by investors at spiky AGM

Deutsche Bank faced a fresh crisis today as angry shareholders denounced its top team, just as the German lender announced thousands of job cuts in a bid to reboot its faltering turnaround. City jobs are in the firing line after chief executive Christian Sewing laid out plans to cut the bank’s headcount to “well below”…

Sale Sharks rugby club owners take control of Cotton Traders

The owner of Sale Sharks rugby club has struck a deal to seize control of clothing retailer Cotton Traders. Investment fund CorpAcq has snapped up a majority stake in the 30-year-old firm from founders, and former England rugby players, Fran Cotton and Steve Smith. The undisclosed swoop will help bankroll plans to bolster its online…

Electra up for sale after shake-up engineered by activist Bramson 

Private equity group Electra has put itself up for sale just two months after notorious corporate raider Edward Bramson stepped down as chief executive. Electra – which is still 29.9pc owned by Mr Bramson’s investment vehicle Sherborne – said it had already received expressions of interest from buyers looking to snap up some of its assets, but not the…

Rusal boss and seven directors quit as sanctions take their toll 

The chief executive and half the board of Rusal have quit as the aluminium producer battles to escape punishing US sanctions that could cripple its business. The company, which is 48pc owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska, announced the departures of boss Alexandra Bouriko and seven directors. Evgeny Nikitin, head of its aluminium division, will act…

Retail sales rebound as sunshine brings out the shoppers 

Britain’s economy could be back on the front foot as retail sales recovered sharply in April, bouncing back from a fall in March when snowy weather hit sales. Shoppers increased the amount bought by 1.6pc on the month, smashing expectations of a 0.9pc rise and reversing March’s 1.1pc drop. Compared with April 2017 sales volumes…

When is Amazon Prime Day 2018 and what time does it start?

If you like a bargain then Amazon Prime Day, the online retail giant’s annual one-day flash sales event, is perfect for you. Amazon are yet to announce what day the sales will fall, but if recent history is anything to go by it’s likely to be the week commencing July 9.  Amazon will offer deals on thousands of products…

Wizz Air boss warns airfares could rise as costs mount

The boss of Wizz Air has warned it may have to put up prices to counter rising costs such as higher oil prices and pay hikes for staff.  József Váradi said Wizz’s average fares had fallen for the past five years but that current cost pressures “could mean our fares — and those in the…

Russian gas giant Gazprom escapes antitrust fine as EU imposes binding ‘rulebook’

The European Union has stopped short of fining Gazprom in a settlement aimed at preventing the Russian energy giant from hiking gas prices in central and Eastern European countries. Magrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of the European Commission’s antitrust department, announced a series of binding rules on Gazprom, which is the dominant gas supplier in the…

Mediclinic swings to loss after massive writedowns

FTSE 100 healthcare company Mediclinic has plunged to a loss after taking a huge hit on its stake in Spire Healthcare and a charge to its Swiss business. The South African company posted losses before tax of £479m in the year to March 31, compared to profits of £307m the prior year. It was chief executive Danie Meintjes’s…

Covent Garden owner Capco looks to split itself in two

Property company Capital & Counties (Capco) is considering splitting its Covent Garden estate and its residential development at Earls Court into two separately listed companies. The split would enable the Covent Garden division, which Capco said had been valued at £2.5bn, to focus on prime central London retail. Meanwhile a new company created around the Earls…

Intertek boosted by consumer push for sustainability

Increasing consumer demand for higher quality and more sustainable products is driving growth at product testing company Intertek, putting it on track to meet its revenue expectations this year. The company tests a variety of products including sporting goods, packaging, machinery and children’s toys to check that manufacturers are meeting regulations. Demands on manufacturers have become tighter…

Beast from the East blows B&Q sales off course

DIY chain B&Q has suffered a near-double digit sales fall after Britain’s cold snap meant it had to temporarily close stores and it faced tough competition in an «uncertain» UK market. Sales at B&Q tumbled 8.8pc to £828m in the three months to April, as freak weather from the «Beast from the East»  battered the high…

Pub owner Young’s shrugs off high street ‘doom and gloom’

Pub owner Young’s has shrugged off «doom and gloom» around consumer spending and Brexit with another year of sales growth and an increase to its dividend.  Chief executive Patrick Dardis cheered what he called “industry-leading” sales growth of 6.2pc, with turnover hitting £279.3m in the year to April 2. Like-for-like revenue, measuring sites open more…

Car industry steps up warnings on customs union

Car makers have demanded as a “minimum” that Britain remains in the customs union when the UK leaves the EU, warning “hundreds of thousands” are in danger without a deal. Without frictionless trade, motorists face paying more for cars and less choice, warned the industry’s trade body. Speaking as car makers gathered to showcase their…

TalkTalk suffers the costs of turnaround plan

TalkTalk has swung into the red after absorbing a string of turnaround costs, while revealing its cut-price packages had lured back customers over the last year. The operator posted a pre-tax losses of £73m in the year to March 31, compared with profits of £70m the previous year, dragged down by £119m of turnaround costs….

City jobs under threat as Deutsche Bank swings axe

Germany’s struggling Deutsche Bank has confirmed it will slash thousands of jobs as it reshapes its stock trading business and tries to limit costs. The bank said on Thursday it would cut its workforce from 97,000 to «well below» 90,000. It said the reductions were already «under way.» The redundancies will be focused in the German…

Blow to ‘max fac’ Brexiteer ministers as HMRC reveals £20bn cost to businesses 

Boris Johnson’s favoured scheme for trade after Brexit could cost businesses up to £20bn a year through extra customs declarations, HM Revenue and Customs has warned. The ‘maximum facilitation’ system, or max fac, seeks to avoid border delays by using new technology and by pre-approving big exporters through a trusted trader scheme. By making customs declarations…

Comcast ‘considering’ challenge to Murdoch deal with Disney

Comcast chief Brian Roberts has laid down the gauntlet to Rupert Murdoch by declaring an audacious bid to disrupt the mogul’s exit from global entertainment. Comcast announced it is “considering, and is in advanced stages of preparing” a challenge to Mr Murdoch’s deal with Disney. It heralds open warfare among some of the world’s most…

Topshop posts £10.9m loss as it grapples with tough retail environment

Topshop is the latest retailer to have taken a battering from tough conditions on the high street after posting a multi-million pound loss in its last financial year. The retailer, whose parent company Arcadia Group is owned by Sir Philip Green and includes both Topshop and Topman, made a £10.9m loss in the year to August 2017, compared with a £59.4m profit the…

Severn Trent unveils £100m spending plans

Water utility Severn Trent is preparing to splash out on a £100m investment programme that will include leak-detecting robots, after earning financial rewards from the industry regulator for beating its delivery targets.  The raft of spending will include upgrades to the pipes and pumps used by the FTSE 100 water company to serve 4.4m customers in…

Beast from the East boosts Zoopla owner ahead of takeover

Cold weather at the start of the year sent more people to price comparison websites as they hunted for better deals for their energy bills, according to the company behind property website Zoopla. ZPG reported that revenue for its comparison websites, which include USwitch, jumped 32pc to £82m in the six months to March 31…

Jaguar Land Rover profits slide on shrinking diesel demand

Record sales at Jaguar Land Rover have failed to turn into higher profits as rising investment costs put the brakes on the car maker’s performance. On the 10th anniversary since its acquisition by India’s Tata, the Coventry-based company posted a 6pc rise in annual revenues to £25.8bn on the back of retail sales that rose…

Hollywood Bowl halves debt as customer numbers rise

Hollywood Bowl has halved its debt pile thanks to a rise in the number of customers through its doors. Chief executive Stephen Burns said bowlers were also spending more money per game, which boosted sales and allowed it to slash debt by nearly half from £13.5m to £7.2m in the first half of its financial year. The company’s…

Dairy Crest raises £70m to expand cheese production

Dairy Crest is to spend £85m expanding its creamery in Cornwall, where it makes its Cathedral City and Davidstow brands, to keep up with growing demand for cheese from customers around the world. The investment over the next five years will boost Dairy Crest’s production capacity from 54,000 tonnes of cheese a year to 77,000…

Barclays and Standard Chartered merger speculation gets a cool reception

The City has questioned the rationale of any mega-merger between Barclays and FTSE 100 banking rival Standard Chartered, following speculation that Barclays was considering merger options. Top bosses at Barclays, including chairman John McFarlane, have “kicked around” suggestions of possible tie-ups with rival lenders as part of its response to pressure from activist investor Edward Bramson, according to a…

Babcock shrugs off outsourcing worries to deliver record profits

Engineering outsourcer Babcock International has allayed concerns it could be the next Carillion by hitting its financial targets. The company, which counts the Ministry of Defence as its biggest customer, had seen its share price fall until recently as speculation grew that it could face the same troubles as outsourcers such as Carillion, Capita and…

M&S profits plunge on store closure costs

Marks & Spencer has unveiled another year of falling profits as the high street giant counts the cost of its transformation programme. The retailer reported a 62.1pc fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8m in the year to March 31 as it was dragged down by £321.1m in costs linked to a store closure programme. Chief executive…

Market report: Inmarsat shares sink after UN breaks decades-long monopoly

Struggling satellite giant Inmarsat flirted with a fresh 10-year low after the United Nations broke its decades-long stranglehold on a maritime safety system by finally approving its arch rival’s model. Inmarsat has enjoyed close to a 20-year monopoly on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), an emergency system required on ships exceeding 300…

Is Mark Carney right about Brexit? 

The economy is grounded. Growth has plunged even as the rest of the world pulls ahead. Family finances are under the cost. And it is Brexit’s fault, or so Mark Carney has said. GDP is 2pc lower than it would otherwise be and household incomes down £900, the Governor of the Bank of England told MPs, most…

BT signs four-year extension to football TV production deal

BT Sport has agreed a four-year extension to its deal with the specialist producer sports Sunset+Vine, in a move that cuts costs and secures coverage until its latest football rights deal with the Premier League expires. Sunset+Vine will continue to produce Premier League and Europa League football, as well as Aviva Premiership rugby, until 2022. An…

City watchdog tells banks to uncover ‘dirty money’ with robots and AI

The City watchdog has urged banks to track down criminals with artificial intelligence and machine learning rather than just throwing cash at the problem to «show willing» or appear virtuous.   In a message that comes a day after the foreign affairs select committee said the Government «cannot afford to turn a blind eye» to criminals using London to launder ill-gotten funds, the Financial Conduct…

Tesco Direct to close, putting 500 jobs at risk

Tesco has announced that it is closing its non-food website Tesco Direct, putting around 500 jobs at risk. The e-commerce website which sells clothing, homewares and electricals, was launched in 2006 as the supermarket giant’s attempt to take on Amazon and Argos. However, the retailer said that «despite its best efforts, there is no route to profitability for…

Homeserve UK boss to step down as profits jump 25pc

The UK boss of Homeserve, which provides home emergency insurance cover and repairs, is to step down, as the business reports growing success in its overseas markets. Martin Bennett will leave his role later this year having worked for the company for 15 years, nine of which were as a member of the board. Reporting…

China to cut car import tariffs as trade war fears recede

China will cut car import duties from 25pc to 15pc as the prospect of a trade war with the US fades. The world’s largest car market will lower the import tariffs from July 1, following threats from Donald Trump of retaliatory action. The US President had complained that Chinese-made cars coming into America faced only…

Shell boss hit by shareholder revolt over £8m pay

The boss of Royal Dutch Shell has suffered a bruising shareholder revolt after more than a quarter of its investors voted against his multi-million euro payout for last year. Ben Van Beurden pocketed €8.9m (£7.8m) for 2017 after trebling the company’s profits to $12.1bn (£9bn) as the oil giant staged an impressive recovery from a…

Landlord Shaftesbury hails resilient West End shopping

London’s West End has so far managed to ride out the current turmoil on Britain’s high streets because brands still want a presence in the centre of the capital, landlord Shaftesbury has said. The British high street is suffering as a number of retailers report falling profits, with some seeking to reduce their store numbers…

Deutsche Bank chair Paul Achleitner faces investor revolt

Investment manager Hermes has piled further pressure on Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner ahead of a crunch vote on his future at the lender’s annual general meeting this week. The beleaguered banking giant is facing a potential investor revolt after a torrid year in which it posted a third consecutive loss and ousted its chief…

Nationwide warns of ‘intense competition’ as profits slide

Nationwide Building Society has posted a fall in profits as mortgage lending slumped by a third, with the lender blaming “intense competition” in the market. The UK’s largest building society reported a 7pc drop in pre-tax profits to £977m for the year to April 4, down from £1.05bn the previous year. It was Nationwide’s second consecutive…

Pets at Home boss vows to return profits to growth

The boss of Pets at Home has vowed to return the business to profitable growth, as the retailer reported a profit slump in the year to March 29. Pets at Home posted a 12.3pc drop in underlying pre-tax profit to £84.5m and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of £123.3m — down from £130.5m the previous year….

Galliford Try warns bad weather will add to cost of Aberdeen road project

Construction and housing company Galliford Try is facing higher bills to build Aberdeen’s troubled ring road after bad weather caused delays. The construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route was a joint venture between Galliford Try, Balfour Beatty and Carillion, but when the latter collapsed in January, the remaining two partners were left to finish the…

Bloomsbury flies high on Harry Potter anniversary

The 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter franchise and a Booker Prize win have helped the publisher Bloomsbury sharply lift its profit forecasts «well ahead» of earlier expectations. Bloomsbury said an «exceptional» performance by its consumer publishing division last year has given it strong momentum. Consumer sales were up 20pc to £102m, including a 31pc…

M&S confirms 14 more shops to be axed taking total to over 100

Marks & Spencer has announced that it will shut another 14 stores affecting 1,000 jobs as part of a radical restructuring programme that will result in 100 shops closing their doors. The latest tranche of store closures comes as the retailer’s chief executive Steve Rowe embarks on a five-year plan to turn around the business as it battles to reverse…

Halfords’ shares skid as it warns profits will be flat this year

Investors knocked almost a tenth off the value of Halfords’ shares after the bike and car parts retailer warned its profits were unlikely to grow this year. The retailer plans to invest more in its services arm and make better use of customer data, adding this would hold profits back in the coming year. It came as it revealed a…

Global Ports strikes deal to run Havana’s cruise ship port

Global Ports Holding has landed a 15-year deal to operate a cruise ship port in Havana, as it hopes to cash in on partially thawed relations between Cuba and the US. London-listed GPH’s management contract will also see it work with Cuba’s authorities to help develop new cruise ship terminals in the port. Havana’s port has…

MPs urge Theresa May to take action over Sainsbury’s contract changes

More than 100 MPs have signed a letter to Theresa May urging her to take action against the «unscrupulous contract changes» at high street retailer Sainsbury’s, which they claim will see «10pc of its staff lose up to £3,000 per year». The letter, written by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, and signed by David Lammy among others, says that while…

DFS boss steps aside after eight years

The boss of furniture seller DFS will stand down in November after eight years at the helm. Ian Filby, who led the retailer through its March 2015 IPO, will be replaced by the company’s chief operating officer Tim Stacey. The pair previously worked together at Alliance Boots, where Mr Filby was trading director and Mr…

Flexible working could fix the gender pay gap, says major new report

Businesses are being urged to assess and improve their flexible working practices in a bid to end gender discrimination in the workplace. One of the biggest barriers to gender equality and pay parity is employers’ continued refusal to accept non-traditional working practices, according to a new joint report from flexible working experts  Timewise and consultants Deloitte.  The report said…

The workplace fable of the Persistent Caller and the CEO

The phone rang in the CEO’s outer office. His PA answered. ‘Good morning,’ said the caller. ‘Can I speak to Mr Jones, the CEO, please.’ ‘What is it about?’ asked the experienced PA, who received many calls a day from people trying to get hold of her boss to sell him things. ‘It’s personal,’ said…

Fix economy to make a success of Brexit, businesses tell Prime Minister 

Theresa May is failing to take “basic and obvious” steps to restore the flagging economy’s fortunes, businesses have warned in a strongly-worded open letter. A series of significant reforms are needed but the domestic agenda has seemingly been forgotten due to the Brexit negotiations, the British Chambers of Commerce said. Adam Marshall, the BCC’s director general,…

AI is creating jobs, not destroying them, say UK business chiefs

The nightmare scenario of robots destroying jobs for British workers is nowhere close to coming true, chief executives have claimed. Instead, they say, demand for human workers is growing rapidly because companies need more staff who understand the new technologies. A total of 71pc of UK chief executives told KPMG that artificial intelligence will create more…

Market report: Ocado shares climb further on blue-chip hopes

OCADO’s late attempt to secure a place in the FTSE 100 in next week’s index shake-up gathered pace after Wall Street analysts urged investors to snap up the stock in the wake of its transformational deal with US grocery giant Kroger. The FTSE 250 firm soared 44pc last Thursday after a milestone deal with $20bn-valued…

Outgoing chairman warns BP over further executive pay tinkering

BP’s outgoing chairman has warned against further tinkering with pay packages for senior executives if it is to attract top talent. In a parting shot at BP’s annual general meeting Carl-Henric Svanberg appeared to criticise the committee’s decision to cut the pay packet of BP boss Bob Dudley by $3.4m. Under the group’s pay policy Mr Dudley could…

Aston Martin gears up for flotation but sales slip as new cars launched

Aston Martin has taken a hit from sterling’s fluctuating value caused by uncertainty over Brexit, with headline profits at the luxury car maker halving in the first quarter. Pre-tax profit dropped almost 50pc compared to the last time round on a statutory basis to £2.8m as sterling’s weakness hit the Gaydon-based business. Stripping out currency…

World’s largest battery and car-charging network planned for UK

The world’s largest battery and vehicle-charging network could roll out across British roads through a new £1.6bn scheme due to start in Southampton next year. A brand new energy start-up has won the backing of a UK institutional investor, green energy multi-millionaire and National Grid for fresh plans to dot the UK with grid-scale 50MW…

City watchdog bans finance boss of firm owned by couple dubbed ‘vampires of debt’

The former finance boss of a collapsed debt management company that was used by a couple to fund their luxurious lifestyle has been banned from the City.  Adrian and Christine Whitehurst, dubbed the «vampires of debt», set up First Step Finance in 2007 with the promise of helping struggling families control their debts. The firm went bust in 2014 with over £7m missing from customer funds.  The…

Hyundai backs off restructuring in win for activist investor Elliott

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group has shelved a controversial restructuring plan in a victory for a group of rebel shareholders including feared activist investor Elliott Management. The shake-up — which was due to be put to an investor vote next week — would have given the son of Hyundai’s chairman greater control of the business….

M&S bolsters its board with two new directors ahead of crunch results 

Marks & Spencer has bolstered its board with two new non-executive directors ahead of crunch results this week in which it is expected to reveal plans to close more stores. Katie Bickerstaffe, formerly UK and Ireland boss of electricals seller Dixons Carphone, and Pip McCrostie, who previously led accounting giant EY’s corporate finance business, will…

US regulators finally approve potential blockbuster drug for AstraZeneca

US regulators have given the green light to a crucial drug in AstraZeneca’s pipeline, two years after blocking approval because of concerns over the way it was manufactured, sending shares in the company up by nearly 2pc in morning trading. Approval for Lokelma, which helps patients with hyperkalaemia, a condition typically associated with chronic kidney disease and chronic heart failure, was important for…

BA’s owner plans third £1.3bn bid for Norwegian, reports claim

The owner of British Airways is planning a third offer for no-frills rival Norwegian that would value the airline at £1.3bn, reports suggest. International Airlines Group’s latest offer, which follows two failed bids revealed earlier this month, is worth 330 kroner (£30.30) per share according to Spanish newspaper Expansion, a 32pc premium on Friday’s closing price. The…

Ryanair shrugs off pilot shortage chaos to post soaring profits

Ryanair shrugged off a pilot shortage that led to thousands of cancelled flights to post a surge in annual profits and revenues. Costs, excluding fuel, rose as the no-frills airline was forced to hand out compensation to passengers affected by the cancellations last autumn, and increase wages after cutting a new deal with pilots, while fares…

Sky narrows focus on virtual reality with third technology hub

Sky is narrowing its focus on virtual reality with the launch of a new technology hub on its west London campus. The media giant will today unveil plans to create a 70,000 square foot site on its UK headquarters, its third tech centre in Europe. The space will house engineers and software developers focusing on new products in areas such…

ATM rates row goes to appeal court

Supermarkets could be owed as much as £300m because of an ongoing legal wrangle about the business rates paid for cash machines, which threatens to heap additional financial pressure on the struggling industry. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which is responsible for administering business rates, issues an initial bill which retailers then check against the…

Shell urged to resist calls to fall into line with Paris climate accord

Britain’s largest shareholder advisory groups have called on investors in Royal Dutch Shell to reject growing demands for the oil giant to take full responsibility for its impact on the environment. Shell faces a binding shareholder vote tomorrow to decide whether to adopt rigorous accountability standards to bring its operations into line with the Paris climate agreement. Glass…

Steiner earns £110m bonus following Ocado-Kroger tie-up

Ocado deliveries will soon include the largest ever executive bonus for the boss of a London-listed company, and a multi-million pound surprise windfall for its chairman. Tim Steiner, Ocado’s co-founder and major shareholder, will pocket a bonus totalling £110m for last year after the online grocer’s share price surged following its tie-up with US supermarket…

Spendthrift 30-somethings ‘a drag on economy’

Lacklustre consumer spending has been driven by Britons in their 30s, fuelling fears among experts that the UK’s stuttering start to 2018 “may not be a blip”, economists have warned. The report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) found a huge disconnect between the confidence in the economy of people in their 30s and…

Job surplus creates boom in back-to-work parents

Britain’s jobs boom is tempting parents and stay-at-home spouses to come back into the jobs market in unprecedented numbers, as companies find it increasingly hard to find workers. The number staying out of the jobs market fell by 162,000 in the past year, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, the biggest annual fall…

Contract offer to counteract global threat to nuclear sites

The Government is so concerned about the global threat to nuclear power stations that it is seeking a company to provide security training to foreign operators. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a £6m tender for a private company to deliver what it calls a National Security Culture Programme. It…

Flat-sharing social network bags £1m from investors

A fledgling flat-sharing social network has raised £1m from new and existing investors in just four weeks as its popularity among the growing “generation rent” accelerates. Ideal Flatmate, founded by Tom Gatzen and Rob Imonikhe, secured some of the cash from lead investor David Pollock, an estate agency veteran who founded his own north London…

China investment cuts tobacco giant’s cigarette dependence

British American Tobacco has made its first outside investment as it steps up the search for cutting-edge technology that could help it to reduce its reliance on cigarettes and other traditional smoking products. The FTSE 100 company has backed a Chinese investment fund that seeks out early-stage technology firms in a bid to help them…

Global alliance puts carbon capture back on the agenda

The first major international initiative to galvanise technology that traps carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere will be unveiled this week by some of the world’s largest polluters. The annual Clean Energy Ministerial will play host to the new global co-operation plan to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) to clean up the emissions…

Marks and Spencer slump raises FTSE relegation fears

Marks & Spencer is bracing for a second straight year of falling profits and a potential relegation from the FTSE 100 index as biting retail conditions hit food and clothing sales. The high street staple will reveal a 7pc fall in pre-tax profits to £572.6m, and a meagre 1pc revenue rise to £10.7bn, when it…

Governance chief continues Standard Life Aberdeen exodus

A senior City executive tasked with holding UK boardrooms to account is the latest person to leave Standard Life Aberdeen following its £11bn merger last summer.  Paul Lee, head of corporate governance for Standard Life Aberdeen’s funds arm, will stand down next month after more than three years in the role.  His decision is linked…

Blackstone checks out of Hilton after 11 years

After holding an interest in Hilton Worldwide for nearly 11 years, private equity firm Blackstone Group has decided to exit the hotel chain operator by selling its about 5.8pc stake.  The sale of 15.8 million shares would generate about $1.32bn (£980m), based on Hilton’s Thursday close at $83.30. Hilton said today it will not receive any proceeds…

BMW launches another huge recall over fire risk fears

BMW has been forced to issue another massive recall of cars in UK, over fears they could catch fire. The problem relates to wiring connecting the battery and the fan, and is thought to affect almost 300,000 vehicles in the UK. It is the second major recall the German car maker has had to issue…

GlaxoSmithKline faces fresh whistleblower allegations

GlaxoSmithKline is facing fresh criticism over the way it treats whistleblowers after a lawsuit was filed by a former senior technical lead claiming he was harassed and wrongfully dismissed after repeatedly warning over issues with the pharmaceutical giant’s computer fleet. The case, filed in the US, piles more pressure on Glaxo to review its policy for whistleblowers, after…

China chooses former Royal Mint site as home of new London embassy

China is building a new London embassy on the site of the former Royal Mint, near the City of London, deciding against relocating to the so-called new «diplomatic quarter» on the South Bank.  According to CBRE, which advised on the purchase, China had approached the owners of Royal Mint Court after having conducted a search across a huge number of locations…

Sanctions-hit Oleg Deripaska quits boards of EN+ and Rusal

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has quit the boards of EN+ and its subsidiary Rusal in a bid to free the companies from crippling US sanctions. Mr Deripaska had agreed to cede control of EN+ to help the company escape sanctions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration that severely limit its ability to do business. Under a…

City big hitters to probe ‘toothless’ UK audit watchdog FRC

The Government has picked a team of City big hitters to lead a probe into the UK’s audit watchdog just days after a damning report into the collapse of Carillion pointed to major failures in the market.  Former Treasury official Sir John Kingman, a key figure during the financial crisis and the chairman of Legal & General, was chosen to…

Carpetright kick-starts £60m share placing to bankroll restructuring

Struggling retailer Carpetright has launched a £60m fundraising to help rescue the business from its precarious financial position. The flooring-to-beds company has issued a slew of new shares at 28p each, marking a 16pc discount on its closing share price of 33.25p on May 17. The share sale will be used to bankroll the firm’s costly overhaul…

AstraZeneca may face pay revolt as sales disappoint

Drugs giant AstraZeneca was bracing for a revolt over its boss’s pay on Friday morning as it revealed a disappointing drop in revenues.   Sales of its Crestor drug, which is used to combat the build up of cholesterol, slumped 38pc to $389m (£288m), below analyst estimated of $452m, as it struggled against competition from…

China offering Trump package to slash US trade deficit ‘by up to $200 billion a year’

China is offering US President Donald Trump a package of trade concessions and increased purchases of American goods aimed at cutting the US trade deficit with China by up to $200 billion a year, US officials familiar with the proposal said. News of the offer came during the first of two days of US-China trade talks in Washington focused on resolving tariff threats between the…

TGI Fridays staff to strike in dispute over pay

Workers at restaurant chain TGI Fridays are to strike in a dispute over pay. Members of Unite at branches in Milton Keynes and London’s Covent Garden will take action on Friday in a row over tips and payment of the minimum wage. The union says a new policy was introduced so part of the tips and service…

Market report: Tonic maker Fever-Tree loses its fizz

Market darling Fever-Tree Drinks finally lost some of its fizz after the tonic maker failed to deliver its customary earnings upgrade to growth-thirsty shareholders. After riding Britain’s gin craze wave, Fever-Tree has upgraded its profit guidance in 12 of its trading updates since its initial public offering in 2014. Despite revealing that trading had met…

Interest rates could stay at rock bottom for another decade 

Britain could face 20 years of rock-bottom interest rates as economists believe desperate saving by people in their 50s and 60s will create a glut of cash that forces down market rates. After 10 years of ultra-low interest rates since the financial crisis, this extra pressure from savings could mean another decade at sub-2pc interest…

Shipping giant Maersk to abandon Iran as threat of sanctions grows

Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk has said it will stop working in Iran as the international fallout over the collapse of the country’s nuclear deal grows. Soren Skou, chief executive of the company which is the world’s largest container shipping line, said he would abide by sanctions imposed on the Gulf nation. “With the sanctions the…

National Grid bet on US energy pays off despite winter storms

National Grid’s bet on the US market has paid off for its dividend hungry investors despite fears over the winter storms which battered the energy network operator late last year. The FTSE 100 group’s shareholders took fright after a series of hurricanes wiped £140m from their profits, but they are now in line for higher…

Banks abandon interest-only home loans amid FCA scrutiny of ‘mortgage prisoners’

The number of households with interest-only mortgages has almost halved in six years as banks abandon this controversial corner of the home-lending market. City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) earlier this month began scrutinising the problem of “mortgage prisoners” — homeowners who are trapped on expensive loans and unable to remortgage. The FCA estimates there…

Foxtons feels the squeeze in challenging London market

Foxtons is heading for a year of sliding profits as a slowdown in the London property market continues to weigh on its performance. In a gloomy trading update ahead of its annual general meeting today, Foxtons said revenues had dropped 14.7pc in the first three months of the year, to £28.7m. The company blamed a…

Asda notches up four consecutive quarters of sales growth

Supermarket giant Asda has rung up its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, shrugging off the tough retail climate as it gears up for a proposed £15bn merger with Sainsbury’s. Britain’s third biggest grocer clocked a 3.4pc rise in like-for-like sales during the first three months of the year. Stripping out the impact of Easter, which…

Allied Healthcare thrown lifeline by creditors with rescue deal

Allied Healthcare, one of the UK’s biggest providers of in-home care for elderly and vulnerable people, has been thrown a lifeline by its creditors as it battles rising costs. The company, which has almost 9,000 staff caring for 13,500 people and works with 150 health authorities across the UK, has secured a company voluntary arrangement (CVA)…

Countryside to build modular factory to ramp up production

Countryside Properties is pressing ahead with plans to build its own modular housing factory in a bid to drive its growth, as it increasingly focuses on building affordable homes for rent. The company will invest £6m in a new timber frame factory in Warrington which is expected to build around 1,500 homes a year. It…

Plunge in apprentice numbers highlights fears over quality of training

A fresh plunge in the number of people starting apprenticeships and growing concerns about the quality of training have sparked further criticism of a shake-up of the system. New figures from the Department for Education revealed a 25pc plunge in the number of people starting apprenticeships. Just 232,700 apprenticeships were begun between the start of…

Royal Mail predicts decline in letter volumes as data rules hit

Royal Mail has warned that new European data laws could reduce the number of letters being sent, as its British business failed to increase revenue last year. The company said that the impact of the new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, meant it expected its decline in addressed letters…

Ocado strikes ‘transformational’ deal with US giant Kroger

Ocado will build as many as 20 robotic warehouses in the United States as part of a landmark deal with US supermarket giant Kroger that will significantly accelerate its plans to become a global supplier of white-label online shopping technology. Kroger, which is second only to Walmart in terms of US market share, with revenues…

Mothercare swings axe on 50 stores and brings back ousted boss

Mothercare is to swing the axe on 50 underperforming stores and re-hire the chief executive it sacked just weeks ago as part of a wide-ranging shake-up. The closures, which will result in hundreds of job losses, will be carried out through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) — a move which allows companies to close loss-making…

Cervical screening bungled and patients put at risk of ‘serious harm’, report on Capita NHS contract finds

Capita put patient safety at risk, including incorrectly informing dozens of women that they were no longer part of the cervical screening programme, as it struggled to manage an NHS support services contract which was supposed to save the health service millions of pounds, a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation has found. The outsourcer was appointed to the…

Market report: Price cap jitters send Centrica lower

Energy giant Centrica’s post-results lift was wiped out by analysts warning that customers will continue to desert the British Gas owner as the Government’s price cap intensifies competition. The UK’s largest energy supplier has been haemorrhaging customers but shareholder fears were soothed on Monday by a sharp slowdown in customer losses to just 110,000 in the…

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