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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Comcast abandons Fox bid
  3. Sterling dips under $1.30
  4. Retail sales fall in June
  5. Sports Direct shares drop as profits plunges
  6. Hot weather hits SSE profits

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

That's all for now

Alas we have to close the Business Live page a little early today, as are low on staff.

We will open up again at 06:00 on Friday morning.

Belgium airspace shutdown

A bad afternoon to be flying in or out of Belgium.

The nation closed its airspace at 4pm local time (that's 3pm in London).

A computer glitch has caused problems downloading flight plans, according to Belgocontrol.

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BreakingHuawei risk to UK telecoms network

BreakingPoundworld to disappear from High Street

The administrators of Poundworld have announced the closure of its remaining stores.

Another 78 stores are to close will close by Sunday 29 July and another 112 stores by 10 August.

That will result in 2,339 job losses.

Administrators have been closing the firm's 335 stores since it went into administration in June.

Cliff-edge Brexit fears back in boardrooms

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

Oranges on a stall
BBC

Thursday's warning from Brussels to EU businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit is timely.

It arrives alongside a palpable shift in the minds of UK business leaders on the probability of leaving without a negotiated deal.

It has gone up - and many UK companies are intensifying and accelerating their contingency plans to mitigate potentially severe disruption.

Across the board, firms feel the cliff-edge is getting uncomfortably close.

One food retailer told me "no deal is looking more likely - we are getting pretty worried. We're looking at a number of options to make sure we can get food into the UK."

One option is to apply for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status, which can offer priority with border procedures.

It's a bit like a frequent flying, executive club member who gets priority boarding when there's a crush at the gate. It costs money but an increasing number of businesses consider it a useful bit of insurance.

As one told me: "It comes with costs but we think we might pull the trigger on that now."

Read Simon's full blog here

Teaching the elite to fly helicopters

Teaching the elite to fly helicopters

Staying with an aviation theme. The UK's Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) has just taken delivery of four state-of-the-art helicopters - flying classrooms that will help civilian and military test pilots perfect their flying skills, reports the BBC's international business correspondent Theo Leggett.

Are electric planes on the way?

1/2: 🛩️✈️ You could be flying in an electric powered plane as soon as 2021 @EviationAero founder Omer Bar-Yohay te… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

2/2: 🛩️✈️ You could be flying in an electric powered plane as soon as 2021 @EviationAero founder Omer Bar-Yohay te… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Sky shares hit by Comcast decision

Sky shares have fallen back after Comcast pulled out of the deal to buy 21st Century Fox assets, saying it preferred to focus its efforts on Sky and a move into Europe.

Sky shares are down 2.45% in London trade.

"If Disney were to cede on this then the price for Sky would most likely be much less given that Sky would no longer have access to either the Disney or 21st Century Fox content catalogue, which may help explain some of this afternoon’s weakness," says Michael Hewson, chief Market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

The only way is down...

Media commentator Roy Greenslade tweets the latest circulation figures for the quality mass-market daily papers:

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Snoop Dogg success in trademark action

Snoop Dogg in concert
Getty Images

Rapper Snoop Dogg has successfully opposed a UK trademark application for ‘Snoop’.

Snoop International had applied to register the name, which was accepted in 2016.

However, the rapper opposed the trademark based on his own trademarks for Snoop Dogg, Snoop Juice, and Snoop Lion.

Snoop Dogg also alleged that Snoop International’s owner, Michael Gleissner, owns various UK trademarks for “blocking purposes”.

Mr Gleissner filed a counter-statement in 2017 denying all grounds.

The UK Intellectual Property Office upheld Snoop Dogg's opposition, and has ordered Snoop International to pay £1,300 compensation.

'A lot more clarity to this four-way dance'

“I suspect Disney will now be motivated to let Sky go and perhaps also let go of the minority stake [in Sky] at a mutually acceptable valuation,” says Tuna Amobi, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research.

“The valuation is obviously a major issue... that needs to be resolved.”

He adds: “This has paved the way for Disney to move forward with Fox and provided an added rationale for Disney to perhaps back off and allow Comcast to acquire Sky.

“This I think provides a lot more clarity to the resolution of this four-way dance”

Comcast shares surge as Wall Street opens behind

Comcast logo
Getty Images

Wall Street stocks were down in early trade, with several companies falling.

But Comcast shares surged after the company exited a bidding war with Disney for Fox media assets. Camcast shares were up 2.89% in early trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 25,139.62, down 0.2%. The broader S&P 500 also dropped 0.2 % to 2,810.40, ahd the tech-based Nasdaq slipped 0.1 percent to 7,844.35.

Sterling still down v the US dollar

Sterling remains down against the greenback, behind by 0.67% in Thursday trading, at $1.2981.

Bumpy ride

Confused about the current media landscape in light of Comcast's decision to abandon its Fox bid?

Rani Molla, data editor at Recode, has tweeted her handy graphic here:

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A third of votes reject re-election of Royal Mail chairman

BBC Scotland business editor tweets...

BreakingShareholders reject Royal Mail execs pay package

Royal Mail says shareholders have rejected a pay package for its senior executives.

It said 70.17% of votes cast by shareholders at the annual meeting were against the resolution on the director's remuneration report.

The company has faced a backlash from shareholder advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis over a 17% jump in new chief executive Rico Back's salary to £640,000 compared to that of previous boss Moya Greene.

'Congratulations to Disney'

I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company

Brian L RobertsChairman and chief executive, Comcast Corporation

Comcast shares up in pre-market trading

Shares of Comcast were up 2.2% in pre-market trade, while Fox fell 1%..Walt Disney sahres were up marginally.

"Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and instead will focus on our recommended offer for Sky," the company said .

Disney had trumped Comcast's $66bn all-cash challenge to its deal for the Fox last month by upping its offer to $7bn in cash and shares .

Fox shareholders had been scheduled to vote on the Disney deal on 27.

Comcast will now focus on the $34bn offer to acquire 61% of Sky. Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, has been also seeking to acquire the majority stake.

Trump hints at employment news

US president Donald Trump is particularly chatty today - he has just tweeted about an important meeting this afternoon.

In a previous tweet admonishing the media, he says that many US publications are ignoring "all of the economic and jobs records being set".

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BreakingComcast 'to focus on Sky'

Comcast has said it doesn't intend to pursue the further acquisition of 21st Century Fox, according to Reuters.

It wants to focus on the Sky acquisition, Bloomberg reports

BreakingFormer Euribor traders sentenced to jail

Canary Wharf
Getty Images

Former Deutsche Bank trader Christian Bittar and Philippe Moryoussef, who once worked at Barclays, have been sentenced to jail by a London court for plotting to rig global interest rates.

The two Frenchmen, friends outside work who went skiing together, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud by dishonestly manipulating the Euro interbank lending rate (Euribor), a benchmark for trillions of financial contracts and loans, between January 2005 and December 2009 for profit.

Mr Bittar, 46, who pleaded guilty in March was given a sentence of five years and four months.

Mr Moryoussef, 50, was sentenced to eight years after a jury unanimously convicted him last week.

He did not take part in the trial, having skipped bail and sought refuge in France.

EU charges Qualcomm with new antitrust violation

Qualcomm logo
Reuters

The European Commission has charged chipset maker Qualcomm with a new antitrust violation as part of an ongoing case.

The EU has been investigating Qualcomm for allegedly selling chipsets at a lower price in order to push rivial Nvidia and British phone software maker Icera out of the market between 2009 to 2011.

Nvidia bought Icera for $352m in 2011. In 2016, Nvidia sued Qualcomm in the UK, claiming that Qualcomm's "illegal practices" led to a reduction in demand and contracts that weren't entered into, even after a customer had agreed or expressed a strong intention to purchase.

It is not known how that lawsuit is progressing.

If found guilty of the EU's accusations, Qualcomm could face a fine of up to 10% of its global turnover.

Separately, in January Qualcomm was fined €997m by the EC for paying Apple to exclusively use its technology in iPhones and iPads.

It is widely believed that Qualcomm's actions helped to kill off the WiMax standard in favour of LTE - a standard of mobile internet more commonly known as 4G.

BreakingGaucho goes into administration

Gaucho restaurant
Gaucho

Steak group Gaucho has gone into administration, putting more than 500 people out of work.

Deloitte has been appointed as administrator, the audit giant said.

"The administrators’ strategy involves an immediate closure of all the UK Cau restaurants, resulting in approximately 540 redundancies, and a focus on maximising the value achievable in the Gaucho business, which is profitable and underpinned by a strong brand," Deloitte said.

Big beast

Russell Hotten

BBC Business Reporter

BelugaXL
Airbus

No, it's not something from this week's Farnborough Airshow. But European planemaker Airbus showed off its new massive transporter this morning in a display in Toulouse.

The BelugaXL - even bigger than than the previous version - took off for its maiden flight across south west France.

The "whale of the skies", which enters service in 2019, will be used to carry parts, including aircraft wings from the UK, between Airbus' European factories.

The 63.1m long aircraft, with a wing span of 60.3m, has 30% extra transport capacity.

It can carry two Airbus A350 XWB wings at a time. The current Beluga can transport just one.

The aircraft will not just be used to carry over-sized Airbus components.

Previous Beluga's have been used to transport humanitarian aid relief.

And in 1999, a Beluga carried Eugene Delacroix's huge painting Liberty Leading the People, from Paris to Tokyo.

Today's flight starts a 10-month test and safety certification programme.

New empty home tax announced

The BBC's personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz tweets about the House of Lords passing a bill that allows councils in England to quadruple council tax on some empty homes...

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When two become one...

Financial Times media editor Matthew Garrahan tweets the cover of the latest issue of Time:

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London shares mixed

London Stock Exchange
Getty Images

London stocks are now mixed, as losses in retail stocks offset gains in shares from companies that have benefited from the weakness in the pound.

The FTSE 100 is now 2 points or 0.03% ahead to 7,677.99, led by Unilever, which rose 2% to £42.86 despite a slight dip in sales for the first half of 2018.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 has dropped 115 points or 0.6% to 20,869.67.

Top of the losers is engineering firm Babcock International, falling 10.3% to $720.40 after cutting its full-year revenue guidance due to a decrease in defence and marine contracts.

Ashley threatens to 'smash' Debenhams

The Telegraph's senior business correspondent Ben Woods tweets:

Donald Trump tweets again

US President Donald Trump is tweeting again. This morning, it's to thank pharmaceutical giant Novartis for following its rival Pfizer in freezing prescription drug prices.

Last week Pfizer said it would not raise prices on several drugs after the Trump administration put pressure on it to keep prices down.

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FCA says banks should prepare for hard Brexit

Sandcastle
Getty Images

The ongoing political turmoil around Brexit should make this advice seem fairly obvious, but UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has said banks and insurers should prepare for a hard Brexit.

"With eight months until we exit the European Union in March 2019, it is important we all - regulators and industry - continue to plan for a range of scenarios," said Nausicaa Delfas, head of international strategy at the Financial Conduct Authority.

"Across the FCA, together with colleagues from the Bank of England and the government, we have been working to develop a number of safeguards and contingencies, in the event of a hard Brexit, to ensure that 'day one' works smoothly," Delfas told an event held by TheCityUK.

A quick look at the pound

Pound v dollar chart
BBC

Retail sales 'positive'

There's something for everyone in the retail sales figures. While Neil Wilson of Markets.com found the data to be "dismal", Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown is looking on the bright side:

"On the face of it, today’s retail sales data could look disappointing... But the monthly data is notoriously volatile, and trend-spotters would do well to look at the quarterly figures," Mr Brettell says.

"Despite a disappointing month, sales grew 2.1% over the three months to June, which was the strongest since 2004."

Retail sales 'dismal'

Deck chairs
Getty Images

Disappointing retail sales figures have helped knock the pound below $1.30, says Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com.

“Retailers can always find ways to blame the weather and this time it’s the heatwave that can be blamed for a dismal performance by the UK consumer in June.

"That was a terrible set of retail sales figures which will do nothing to persuade the Bank of England to hike in August," he says.

Fraud office seeks Euribor retrial of ex-Barclays trio

Trading screen
Getty Images

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is seeking a retrial of three former Barclays traders accused of plotting to rig global interest rates after a jury was unable to reach a verdict last week.

A lawyer for the SFO told a London court on Thursday that Carlo Palombo, 39, Sisse Bohart, 41, and 61-year-old Colin Bermingham would face a second trial on charges they conspired to defraud by dishonestly manipulating Euribor rates between January 2005 and December 2009.

They deny wrongdoing.

Two co-defendants, former Deutsche Bank star trader Christian Bittar and one-time Barclays trader Philippe Moryoussef, are due to be sentenced later today.

Pound drops

Pounds sterling
Getty Images

Sterling remains frail after being hit on Wednesday by weak inflation data.

Ongoing political turmoil related to Britain's plans to leave the European Union has also served as a lingering drag on the pound.

The pound is trading 0.33% down at $1.3026, after hitting a 10-month low of $1.3010 on Wednesday.

Sports Direct defends drop in profits

BBC Business Live

Sports Direct's head of strategic investments Liam Rowley comments on the news that the retailer's profits fell 72.5% after losing £85m on its investment in Debenhams..

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SAP raises outlook

SAP logo
Getty Images

Enterprise software firm SAP saw a 40% rise in revenues in the second quarter of 2018, compared to the same period in the previous year.

SAP has also raised its outlook due to significant growth in its cloud business, where there has been a shift towards sales of subscription-based business software products that are hosted on remote servers, instead of the previous method of selling software with more expensive one-time up-front costs.

Subscriptions to cloud-based SAP products and support are now growing by 34% to 38%. Previously, the outlook was 31% to 36.5%.

“We are taking the market by storm,” SAP's chief executive Bill McDermott told investors and reporters on a conference call.

"We are increasing guidance as a signal that a new wave of growth has been unleashed.”

BreakingRetail sales volumes slip in June

UK retail sales slipped 0.5% in June, the Office for National Statistics says.

However, in the three months to June volumes increased by 2.1%.

Office for National Statistics senior statistician Rhian Murphy said:

“Retail sales grew strongly across the three months to June 2018 as the warm weather encouraged shoppers to buy food and drink for their BBQs.

“However, in June retail sales actually fell back slightly, with continued growth in food sales offset by declining spending in many other shops as consumers stayed away from stores and instead enjoyed the World Cup and the heatwave.”

Volvo dodges US tariffs

Volvo XC60
Getty Images

Volvo will start making its XC60 SUV for the US market in Europe rather than China to avoid Washington's new tariffs on Chinese imports.

The Swedish car maker, owned by China's Geely, builds the vehicle in Sweden for European customers and in China for other markets including the US.

"We will of course reshuffle here and take XC60s for the US ... from our factory in Europe, and let China produce for other markets," chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said.

Chinese XC60 production previously shipped to the United States would be reallocated to other markets, with some imported back to Europe, he added.

'Time is running out'

BBC Business Live

Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank
BBC

Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank is on BBC Business Live discussing the affect of a potential "no deal" Brexit on markets and the pound.

"Time is running out - March isn't that long away. But what is noticeable is that most market forecasters still have as their central view an idea that a deal will be done," she said.

"If market forecasters begin to change, then that does open up UK asset markets to a significant decline, particularly with respect to sterling."

Ms Foley said that if no deal were to be achieved, then it is possible that sterling could see parity against the Euro.