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Friday Papers: Sir Richard Branson sells 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic

Noble Group has announced a dramatic shrink-to-survive plan after warning that it could sink to a loss of as much as $1.8bn in the second quarter.

Friday Papers: Sir Richard Branson sells 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic

Top stories

  • The Daily Telegraph: Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is to receive a major windfall by selling down part of its stake in Virgin Atlantic in a major joint venture deal set to include Air France-KLM and existing investor Delta Air Lines.
  • Financial Times: Noble Group has announced a dramatic shrink-to-survive plan and a partnership with rival commodity trader Mercuria after warning that it could sink to a loss of as much as $1.8 billion in the second quarter.
  • The Times: A major setback on a much-vaunted drugs trial at Astrazeneca has left the company vulnerable to a predatory takeover and triggered renewed questions over the future of its chief executive and dividend.
  • Financial Times: Amazon saw profits fall to a seven-quarter low and forecast a drop in profits next quarter, as the company enters a phase of heavy investment in areas such as building warehouses, producing films, and setting up data centres.

Business and economics

  • The Guardian: New research examining for the first time the potential impact of Brexit on cities and towns has found Aberdeen could be the hardest hit by higher trade costs with the European Union, though no British city will escape its effects.
  • Daily Mail: Booming international demand for Scotch whisky lifted shares at drinks company Diageo to an all-time high.
  • Daily Mail: Fund manager Schroders is now looking after a record £418 billion of clients’ assets, after customers pumped in another £800 million in the first half of 2017.
  • Daily Mail: Lloyds has set aside another £1.1 billion for PPI mis-selling victims, taking its total bill to a huge £18.1 billion.
  • Financial Times: France’s Peugeot and Germany’s Daimler posted record results on Wednesday, signalling that Europe’s strengthening economic recovery is boosting manufacturing and raising expectations for car sales on the continent this year.
  • Daily Mail: Online food delivery firm Just Eat says it plans to work with more chain restaurants such as Burger King and KFC as it looks to springboard off a 46% profit rise.
  • Daily Mail: Sky has revealed chief executive Jeremy Darroch is to pocket £11.5 million worth of shares on the same day it announced annual profits were hit by hikes for broadcasting live Premier League football.
  • The Times: A recovery in emerging markets at Smith & Nephew has helped to alleviate the pain of adverse foreign exchange headwinds and the disposal of one of its businesses.
  • The Times: Two of the UK’s biggest estate agents Countrywide and Foxtons have reported a plunge in profits as they suffer from the downturn in housing transactions across the country.
  • The Times: Anglo American confirmed its recovery by reinstating its dividend ahead of schedule but warned that the South African government must go back to “square one” with its proposed mining code.
  • The Times: Starbucks announced plans last night to close hundreds of stores as its sales fell short of expectations.
  • The Times: Improvement in the American oil and gas markets has helped to lift interim profits at Weir Group.
  • The Times: The New York-listed owner of Snapchat will be excluded from one of the world’s largest share indices over concerns at the company’s ownership structure that effectively means ordinary investors are excluded from having a say on the way the business is run.
  • The Times: Strong growth in digital advertising revenue and an unprecedented surge in online subscriptions offset continued declines in print advertising at The New York Times.
  • The Times: Volkswagen defied the collusion scandal engulfing the German car industry to raise its sales forecast for this year as it beat quarterly profit expectations.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Pest control and hygiene company Rentokil’s move away from lower growth businesses - such as its division which cleans and provides company uniforms - has boosted its profits by more than 637% in the last six months.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Times (Tempus share tips): BUY British American Tobacco; BUY Relx; TAKE PROFITS from Rentokil Initial.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tips): BUY British Empire Securities & General Trust.
  • Financial Times: London’s landmark “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper has been sold for £1.3 billion to Hong Kong investors, in a record-breaking transaction for a single building in the UK.
  • Financial Times: Daiwa Securities has snapped up a pair of merger and acquisition boutiques, Sagent Advisors, in the US as Japanese investment banks make a fresh push to expand abroad and compensate for their declining domestic market.
  • The Times: Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has snapped up another chunk of shares in French Connection to take its stake in the retailer once famed for its FCUK logo to 27%.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Glencore has acquired half a coal mine in Australia, just weeks after losing a bidding war to buy the whole lot.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Libor: phasing rate out with no international replacement in sight leaves a gap.
  • Financial Times (Lex): AstraZeneca: chief executive Pascal Soriot should stay and finish his work.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Deutsche Bank: market watchers carefully monitor the German lender’s revenues.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Facebook: growth at the social networking group has picked up steam.
  • Financial Times (Lex): US railroads: profits from the commodity are up for now but cannot be sustained.

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