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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Walt Disney buys 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4bn
  3. UK interest rates held
  4. Four Seasons Care Home wins breathing space over debt payment
  5. Capita shares fall on "trading challenge" warning
  6. Miner Lonmin bought for £285m
  7. Ocado posts rise in sales

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

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Good Night

BBC Testcard

All good things must come to an end, and that's it from us for tonight.

We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Friday with all the latest business news.

Five thing about the Disney deal

Andrew Neil

Presenter, The Daily Politics

Andrew Neil - before he became a BBC presenter - edited the Sunday Times under Rupert Murdoch and was the founding chairman at Sky.

He's been sharing his thoughts about what's behind the Disney-Fox tie up.

Disney-Fox: Five things it could mean

Wall Street closes on a low

Wall Street at Christmas
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Wall Street stocks have fallen, as investors worry about potential roadblocks to the Republicans' tax cut plan.

The Dow Jones ended the day down 0.31% or 76 points lower at 24,509.07

The S&P 500 is down 0.41% or 10 points at 2,652.01.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen 0.28% or 19 points to 6,856.53.

The Simpsons can see the future...

More on Amazon driver row

Amazon packages
Getty Images

MPs Rachel Reeves and Frank Field have written to Amazon UK's managing director Douglas Gurr, regarding recent media reports that Amazon drivers are required to work at least 12 hours a day to keep up with delivery targets.

This is despite the fact that UK law prohibits drivers from working over 11 hours a day.

"We are also concerned about reports that couriers are receiving below the National Living Wage once their routine expenses are deducted," the MPs write in the letter to Mr Gurr.

"Regardless of the formal status of couriers delivering on behalf of Amazon, we would welcome your confirmation that you are investigating these issues and ask that you inform us what actions you are taking to ensure that those couriers contracted to deliver on behalf of your company are working safely and receiving fair pay.

World Bank arming cities against climate change

Woman rescued during Houston floods

The World Bank has set up a $4.5bn scheme to help 150 cities in developing countries keep their infrastructure and communities safe from wilder weather and rising sea levels.

Many cities are struggling to pay for measures needed to guard residents and property from threats such as floods, storms and heatwaves, while improving housing and reducing inequality.

The goal of the World Bank's City Resilience Program is to attract capital from heavyweight investors like pension funds, and to form partnerships with international and local companies.

'No evidence' that offshoring affects unemployment

EU and British flags
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A study of almost 6,000 multinationals by three universities has found that the process of relocating part of a business to another country has no impact on unemployment.

In fact, since the global financial crisis in 2007-08, the researchers from Warwick Business School, University of Wollongong and Aston University found offshoring led to an uplift in employment for the company on its home soil.

“Unsubstantiated claims of loss of employment due to offshoring have played a part to the UK voting for Brexit and the rise of right wing protectionist governments across the world, so it is imperative that we have some proper evidence on the issue," said Warwick Business School's Professor Nigel Driffield.

“Not only is there no evidence of a reduction in employment at home, but on the whole offshoring in these sectors led to an increase in employment at home, particularly after the financial crisis.”

Trump supports Disney Fox deal

Mickey Mouse
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The White House says that President Donald Trump backs Walt Disney's deal to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox's business for $52.4bn.

"I know that the president spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal and thinks that, to use one of the president's favorite words, that this could be a great thing for jobs and certainly looks forward to and hoping to see a lot more of those," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

Why is Rupert Murdoch selling 21st Century Fox?

Rupert Murdoch
Sky News

Rupert Murdoch has given an interview with Sky News explaining why he's decided to sell 21st Century Fox.

"I think this is returning to our roots, which is news and sports. It's the changing way people watch television these days. Sports and news is huge, but with series, people might watch them a week later, or watch a whole series a year later," he said.

"And you've got all these big companies, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, investing in making scripted shows and putting up the costs...

"I think it's strategically the right time and the right move."

What is net neutrality?

A meme of Morpheus from the Matrix
Meme generator

Net neutrality is the principle that an internet service provider (ISP) should give consumers equal access to all legal content regardless of its source.

To put it another way, if the networks which form the bedrock of the internet were a motorway, then under net neutrality, there wouldn't be fast lanes for cars and slow lanes for lorries. Motorists wouldn't be able to pay to use a faster route. All data regardless of its size, is on a level playing field.

In practice what this means is that ISPs - the biggest ones in the US include Comcast, Charter and AT&T - cannot block content, speed up or slow down data from particular websites because they have been paid to do so.

And they can't give preferential treatment to their own content at the expense of their competitors.

Want to know more? Here's a full breakdown.

Internet protests may have led to this...

North America technology reporter Dave Lee tweets...

Bitcoin buyers: Be ready to lose all your money

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Getty Images

The head of one of Britain's leading financial regulators has warned people to be ready to "lose all their money" if they invest in Bitcoin.

Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority, told the BBC that neither central banks nor the government stood behind the "currency" and therefore it was not a secure investment.

Buying Bitcoin, he said, was similar to gambling - and had the same level of risk.

Read Kamal's blog here.

New York's Attorney General on the war path

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he is going to lead a multi-state legal challenge to the US Federal Communications Commission's vote to reverse landmark net neutrality rules from 2015.

"Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access sites like Facebook and Twitter and give them the leverage to degrade high quality of video streaming until and unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, today’s vote would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others," he said in a statement.

"New Yorkers deserve the right to a free and open Internet. That’s why we will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality."

BreakingNet neutrality rules weakened by US regulator

Dave Lee

North America technology reporter

Restrictions on US broadband providers' ability to prioritise one service's data over another are to be reduced after a vote by a regulator.

The Federal Communications Commission split three to two in favour of changing the way "net neutrality" is governed.

Internet service providers (ISPs) will now be allowed to speed up or slow down different companies' data, and charge consumers according to the services they access.

What is net neutrality and how could it affect you

Trump calls Murdoch ahead of Fox takeover

Radio 4 PM

Walt Disney has agreed to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for a total $52.4bn (£39bn).

What does all this mean for Rupert Murdoch, his family and their influence in the UK?

Andrew Neil was an important part of the Murdoch business empire as editor of the Sunday Times and helped set up Sky Television. He told Radio 4's PM programme it was a "watershed" moment.

He also revealed that President Trump called Rupert Murdoch seeking assurances that Fox News would not be sold as part of the deal.

Israeli drugmaker to cut 14,000 jobs

Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has announced a restructuring plan that will see it cut 14,000 jobs worldwide, or 25% of its total workforce.

View more on twitter

The pig farmer taking on Tesco

Joshua Cheetham

Business reporter

Richard Baugh
Richard Baugh

Richard Baugh's family have been raising pigs for three generations at Woodside Farm in rural Nottinghamshire.

But Mr Baugh says he's been forced to change the name of his business after Tesco rebranded its own label pork products as "Woodside Farms".

He's now threatening legal action if the supermarket giant doesn't drop its new branding.

"What bothers me the most is it's not necessarily British food they're putting it on," says Mr Baugh, who's changed his business name to "Bofs Hogs" to differentiate it from Tesco.

Read the full story here

Why is unemployment down but benefit claims up?

Reality Check

View more on twitter

The unemployment figure we quote includes people who are out of work but not claiming benefits. But we can't say with confidence either that unemployment has fallen or that the number claiming out-of-work benefits has risen. Here's why.

Yesterday's unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested there were about 26,000 fewer people unemployed between August and October than there had been between May and July.

That figure is based on a survey so there is a margin of error involved. The ONS is 95% confident that the figure for the change in unemployment was right to within plus or minus 77,000.

As 26,000 is less than 77,000, we say that the fall in unemployment is not statistically significant.

Yesterday's out-of-work benefit figures estimated that the number of claimants had risen 5,900 in November compared with October, but that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because problems linked to the transition to Universal Credit means they have been downgraded to experimental statistics.

BreakingMPs ask Amazon to investigate couriers' working hours

Simon Gompertz

BBC personal finance correspondent

Rachel Reeves, chair for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, and Frank Field, chair for the Work and Pensions Committee, have asked Amazon to investigate reports that couriers are having to drive up to 12-14 hours without being given a break.

View more on twitter

London ends on a low

London Stock Exchange

The FTSE 100 has closed down 0.65% or 48.4 points to 7,448.12, weighed down by losses among financial stocks.

The index's biggest loser was Standard Life Aberdeen, down 3.27% to 413.5p, followed by Convatec Group down 3.1% to 202.9p, and Standard Chartered down 1.9% to 759.4p

The FTSE 250 also ended down 0.27% to 20,006.27, pulled down by Capita, which saw a fall of 12.5% to 407.9p, PZ Cussons, down 5.1% to 311.1p, and Provident Financial, down 3.5% to 811p.

What can we use quantum computing for?

IBM scientists work in the IBM Q computation center
Connie Zhou / IBM Research

In order to explore practical applications for quantum computing, IBM is giving 12 Fortune 500 companies and academic institutions access to its quantum computing systems.

JP Morgan, Daimler, Samsung, Barclays, Honda, Hitachi Metals, JSR Corporation, Nagase, Oxford University, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab and University of Melbourne will have direct access via the cloud to a 20-qubit IBM quantum computing system.

“Working closely with our clients, together we can begin to explore the ways big and small quantum computing can address previously unsolvable problems applicable to industries such as financial services, automotive or chemistry," said Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research.

"There will be a shared focus on discovering areas of quantum advantage that may lead to commercial, intellectual and societal benefit in the future.”

London now lower

London Stock Exchange
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 index is now trading 24.28 points lower at 7,472.23, weighed down by an income fund.

Standard Life Aberdeen is leading the fallers, with its share price down 2.88% at 415.20p.

Convatec, Sky and Whitbread are also among the biggest losing stocks.

On the FTSE 250, shares are now down 0.14% to 20,034.29. The losers are led by outsourcing firm Capita, down 11.3% to 413.10p on a gloomy trading update that showed a recovery in 2018 is unlikely.

NatWest updates security after embarrassing blog by security expert

NatWest Bank website

NatWest Bank has been left red-faced after a security expert wrote a blog highlighting how the bank responds when researchers report security bugs to it.

Troy Hunt and several other researchers told NatWest that it needed to start using encrypted HTTPS connections on all customer-facing websites, not just online banking.

The bank replied, "sorry you feel this way", prompting Mr Hunt to write a blog post about it.

Read more here.

Thomas Cook considering Niki takeover

Thomas Cook sign

Thomas cook says it is now considering making a takeover bid for troubled Finnish carrier Niki, which has gone into insolvency after Lufthansa pulled out of purchasing it due to competition concerns from the European Commission.

"We plan to increase our capacity in the German market in light of the increased demand," said a Thomas Cook spokesman.

"We are considering our options, including a takeover of Niki, or buying parts of the airline."

Oil prices under pressure

Oil rig

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has increased its forecast for growth in US oil output next year, putting pressure on oil prices.

West Texas Intermediate futures fell 29 cents to $56.31 a barrel, down from a high of $56.93, while Brent crude futures were at flat at $62.45 a barrel.

"The IEA underlined the same take that the US Energy Department had the day before yesterday and OPEC had yesterday," said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst with SEB Bank, adding that further upward revisions might follow.

Inside the Fox empire

We've also made a visual representation detailing the Fox empire...

Fox empire graphic

Wall Street opens on a high

Wall Street at Christmas
Getty Images

US shares opened on a high on Thursday, on the confirmation that Walt Disney is to buy most of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox for $52.4bn (£39bn).

The Dow Jones is up 0.24% or 58.9 points to 24,644.29, with Boeing up 1.5% to $296.10, still riding on its big dividend announcement.

The S&P 500 is up 0.12% or 3.3 points to 2,666.08, led by Tiffany & Co, up to 3.7% to $99.62 on the news it has signed a an agreement with Luxottica to develop and distribute a line of sunglasses under the Tiffany & Co brand.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq has risen 0.18% or 12 points to 6,887.85, led by Riot Blockchain, up 11.6% to $25.70 as investors see it as a way to join in the bitcoin mania gripping Wall Street.

Does Sky News have a future?

Bob Iger, Disney CEO
Getty Images

Bob Iger, Disney's chief executive, has indicated that Sky News might not be canned after all.

When asked directly, he told Bloomberg TV: "Absolutely. All of Sky has a future.

"We obviously will look at the overlap between the business that are similar...ultimately we believe we're going to create a lot of opportunities for a lot of Fox employees, opportunities beyond the ones they have today."

Good Afternoon

Little Christmas tree
Getty Images

Thanks to Karen and Russell for this morning's live coverage of all things business.

Mary-Ann Russon with you until 21:30 for the rest of the day's news and views.

Got a point of view? Tweet me at @concertina226 and @BBCBusiness

Mnangagwa calls for lifting of sanctions

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for the removal of political and economic sanctions imposed by Western countries and indicated that elections due in July could be brought forward.

Speaking to the leadership of the ruling Zanu-PF party, Mr Mnangagwa said sanctions were crippling Zimbabwe's national development and he called for them to be lifted unconditionally.

He also said the government would do all in its power to ensure that elections were credible, free and fair, adding that the vote was 'nearer than you expect".

Mr Mnangagwa became president last month after Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, was removed from office.

Niki Lauda could buy back airline

Niki Airline check-in
Getty Images

Ex-Formula One champion Niki Lauda says he is interested in buying back the collpased airline he founded.

Austria-based Nikki ceased operations late on Wednesday after opening insolvency proceedings.

The country's aviation authorities have begun organising the repatriation of an estimated 5,000 passengers stranded by the grounding of the airline, a division of Air Berlin.

This followed an announcement by Germany's Lufthansa that it was no longer interested in buying Niki together with the rest of Air Berlin because of EU competition concerns.

Lauda sold his airline to Air Berlin in 2011.

A graphic illustration of media empires

Wondering how big the Disney media empire is? Here it is explained visually...

Disney media empire

Sky expects Fox takeover to go through

The Disney deal to buy 21st Century Fox also includes Fox's 39% stake in broadcaster Sky.

But of course Sky is in the midst of its own acquisition drama - as 21st Century Fox has agreed to buy the remainder of Sky.

Sky has now put out a statement: "Prior to the close of the transaction, it is anticipated that 21st Century Fox will seek to complete its planned acquisition of the 61% of Sky it doesn't already own."

It added that 21st Century Fox remained "fully committed" to completing the current Sky offer , which it expected it to be finalised by 30 June, 2018.

James Murdoch's future

James Murdoch

Walt Disney chief executive Bob Iger has not ruled out a role for James Murdoch (above) following the takeover of 21st Century Fox.

Rupert Murdoch's son and right hand man had been tipped for a top job in the merged media empire, but today's announcement made not mention of him.

But Iger told ABC's Good Morning America programme: "James and I will be talking over the next couple of months. He will be integral to the integration process. He and I will be discussing whether there is a role for him or not at our company."

Pipeline crack safety cordon halved

Safety cordon round pipeline

A safety cordon around one of the UK's most important oil pipelines has been halved as a crack which was discovered has not grown.

The Forties pipeline carries crude North Sea oil across sea and land for processing at Grangemouth.

The crack was discovered last week near Netherley in Aberdeenshire and a 300m safety cordon was in place.

Operator Ineos said the crack had not grown for 48 hours, so the safety cordon had been reduced to 150m.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK has said the resulting lost production is worth around £20m per day. Read more here

Four Seasons resolution months away

A refinancing deal for Four Seasons Care Homes could still be many months away following today's "standstill agreement" over a critical debt payment.

Under the agreement, Four Seasons and its largest creditor, H/2 Capital, have until 2 April next year to approve a financial restructuring. Only then would a deal be put before other major debtors.

Four Seasons operates 343 care homes, but only just more than 20 are thought to be profitable.

Drugs giant to cut 14,000 jobs

Israeli pharma giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is to slash its workforce by more than a quarter as part of a plan to repay its massive debts.

Teva - which is the world's biggest generic drugmaker - said 14,000 posts will go worldwide.

The shake-up is designed to cut Teva's costs by $3bn (£2.2bn) by the end of 2019.

Israel's main trade union says it will hold a half-day general strike on Sunday in protest at the job cuts.

Teva has debts totalling almost $35bn following its acquisition of Allergan's Actavis generic drug business for $40.5bn.

It has been making changes since Kare Schultz joined as chief executive on 1 Nov.

Eurozone rates on hold

Mario Draghi

As expected, the European Central Bank has kept interest rates for countries in the eurozone unchanged, with the main rate held at zero.

The ECB also confirmed it would cut the amount of assets it is buying each month under its quantitative easing programme from €60bn to €30bn in January. This move had previously been announced in October.

Attention now switches to ECB president Mario Draghi's news conference, where he will discuss the reasons behind the bank's latest decision.

BreakingStay of execution for Four Seasons

Four Season logo
Four Seasons

The UK's second biggest care home provider Four Seasons Health Care and investor H/2 Capital Partners have agreed a "standstill" over an imminent debt payment.

Troubled Four Seasons is in the process of refinancing, and will not make the December payment in order to maintain "appropriate liquidity for its operations", the companies announced.

All about Bob

James Murdoch
Getty Images
Will there be a role for James Murdoch?

It seems that having Bob Iger stay on as the boss of Disney was crucial to sealing the $52.4bn deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets.

Disney's lead independent director Orin Smith, says: "When considering this strategic acquisition, it was important to the board that Bob remain as chairman and chief executive through 2021 to provide the vision and proven leadership required to successfully complete and integrate such a massive, complex undertaking.

"We share the belief of our counterparts at 21st Century Fox that extending his tenure is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders, and will be critical to Disney’s ability to effectively drive long-term value from this extraordinary acquisition.”

There had been speculation that James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox, would be named as the successor to Mr Iger.

But curiously, there is no mention of James in today's announcement.