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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. JetBlue is considering trans-Atlantic routes - report
  3. Debenhams warns over profits again
  4. UK economy 'close to stalling' - PMI report
  5. China suspends Tesla customs clearance - report

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. Asia markets mixed against backdrop of trade talks

    Chinese shares trading board

    Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday, as investors awaited fresh developments in the China-US trade talks.

    It also comes as China's number two leader Li Keqiang warned the country faced "a tough struggle," as he laid out plans to prop up the world's second-largest economy.

    In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.1% while the Shanghai Composite was 0.9% higher.

    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.4%.

    Sydney was behind 0.3% Singapore and Seoul were each 0.5% down and Taipei dropped by 0.4%.

    Markets in Manila and Bangkok were also down.

  2. Ted Baker shares on bumpy run

    Ray Kelvin

    Ted Baker shares are one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 250 this morning, down 3%.

    Yesterday morning, the firm announced that founder and chief executive Ray Kelvin had resigned.

    Shares initially fell 5% on that news, but then rebounded to close almost 5% higher.

    Investors are clearly not sure what to make of the departure of Mr Kelvin, who resigned after allegations of misconduct.

  3. 'Ashley may still swoop on Debenhams'

    Mike Ashley

    Neil Wilson, chief analyst at Markets.com has been taking a look at the Debenhams announcement.

    "There has been some progress for Debenhams in terms of its discussions with lenders, but trading remains very tough," he says.

    "Still struggling and still levered up the hilt - the only hope is restructuring of the balance sheet and some deals with landlords. Mike Ashley may well still swoop - the rationale for a tie-up with House of Fraser remains compelling."

    He said the profits warning was "a big blow for investors harbouring some hope that the ship is being turned around".

    "But on the positive side, management says it’s in ‘constructive’ talks with lenders on restructuring the balance sheet. This follows the £40m bridge facility agreed last month," he adds.

  4. FTSE ahead but Debenhams' shares slide

    The London stock market was ahead in early day trading on Tuesday.

    Not long after open the FTSE benchmark of blue-chip stocks was ahead by 13 points, or 0.18%, at 7147.62.

    Shares in Debenhams, which has just issued another profit warning, were down 6.5%, or 0.2%, at 3 pence.

    Ladbrokes-owner GVC Holdings was ahead by 1.6%, or 10.50p, at 661.50 pence.

  5. Debenhams hints at 'sweeping' reorganisation

    Dominic O'Connell

    Business Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme

    Oddly timed announcements to the stock exchange normally do not contain good news – a market maxim that Debenhams, the beleaguered department store chain, proved this morning.

    Companies make their statements at 7am on the dot, exactly an hour before the start of trading.

    Debenhams made this morning’s announcement 45 minutes later, giving the impression that the statement had to be rushed out.

    There is a profit warning, perhaps not that much of a surprise given the uncertainty surrounding the company, and the bleak trading conditions across the High Street.

    But there is also a coded admission that the company is looking in earnest at a sweeping financial restructuring – a debt-for-equity swap, where shareholders are wiped out and lenders take control, or a company voluntary arrangement, a form of insolvency that lets a company slough off unwanted liabilities like pensions and long-term leases.

    Of the two, the latter is more likely; Debenhams’ equity – the total value of the shares listed on the London exchange – is just £36m.

  6. BreakingDebenhams issues another profit warning

    Debenhams

    Troubled High Street department store chain Debenhams has issued another profit warning, after issuing three last year.

    It said that the group’s statement made on 10 January - that it was “on track to deliver current year profits in line with market expectations” - was no longer valid.

    "We will provide a further update with our interim results announcement," it added, as it released a trading update for the six months to March.

    It said that like-for-like sales fell 5.3% in the 26 weeks to 2 March, an improvement over the 5.7% drop in the first 18 weeks of the financial year.

    Debenhams also said digital sales had grown by 2.0% across the half-year period.

    It added: "Further to our announcement of 12 February regarding the additional £40m bridge facility, discussions with stakeholders have now progressed to include options to restructure our balance sheet in order to address our future funding requirements, and are continuing constructively."

  7. Direct Line hit by end of ties with Nationwide and Sainsbury's

    Minor car accident

    Insurance firm Direct Line Group says it has posted a 6.4% fall in operating profits to £601.7m for 2018 as gross written premiums dropped 5.3% to £3.2 bn.

    Direct own brands premium were up 1.8% compared with 2017, driven by growth across all segments.

    But total group premium were down year on year, as a result of the company's exit from Nationwide and Sainsbury's Home partnerships.

    Full-year statutory pre-tax profits were up 8.1% to £582.6m.

    Chief executive Paul Geddes said: "We enter a pivotal year of operational delivery in 2019."

  8. Eurostar confident about Brexit impact

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    A Department for Transport report, leaked last month, warned that a no-deal Brexit could cause massive queues at St Pancras, the departure point for Eurostar services.

    "The report was misleading," said Mike Cooper, Eurostar chief executive.

    His company is "clearly hoping for the best but planning for all eventualities".

    There is no plan to adjust timetables, he said.

    He added that French customs are being pragmatic.

  9. Eurostar in 'rude health'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Eurostar train

    "Business is in rude health," says Mike Cooper, Eurostar chief executive.

    Passenger numbers rose by 7% last year, carrying 11 million people.

    Traffic last year was boosted by the London to Amsterdam service, which was used by more than 250,000 travellers.

    "The launch of Amsterdam has gone extremely well," said Mr Cooper.

  10. Ladbrokes owner GVC boosted by football World Cup

    Ronaldo of Portugal during the 2018 World Cup

    Sports-betting and gaming group GVC, which owns the Ladbrokes brand, has seen revenue and pre-tax profits grow strongly during 2018, boosted by the football World Cup in Russia.

    Net gaming revenues were up 265% at £2,979.5m and pre-tax profit nearly tripled to £434.6m.

    Chief executive Kenneth Alexander said: "2018 was a transformational year for the group with the completion of the Ladbrokes Coral acquisition in March making the group the largest online-led sports-betting and gaming operator in the world."

    However, losses after tax grew from £34.9m in 2017 to £56.4m last year.

    Among tax bills the group was hit with was one from Greece for around £100m.

  11. BAT takes £436m charge over Canada damages

    Cigarettes

    British American Tobacco (BAT) has taken a charge of £436m, related to court cases in Canada.

    Last week, Canada's Court of Appeal upheld a ruling which ordered three tobacco companies to pay billions in damages.

    The plaintiffs were Quebec smokers who said the firms failed to warn them of health risks associated with smoking.

    For BAT, the court case affects its subsidiary, Imperial Tobacco Canada, which plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

  12. Isle of Man says no more financial scrutiny needed

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Isle of Man

    The UK government has postponed a parliamentary debate over whether the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, should be subject to new financial transparency rules.

    A group of MPs had wanted the three crown dependencies to introduce public registers showing who owns companies registered there.

    But Howard Quayle, chief minister of the Isle of Man, has told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that the island already had robust financial standards.

    "We have a very good system in the Isle of Man for registering beneficial ownership," he said.

    He said potential tax evasion issues were flagged up with UK authorities within 24 hours are being discovered, and possible terrorism fears within just one hour.

    Mr Quayle, denied that the register - which is not publicly available for scrutiny - was "secret", and said there were "penalties if you put misleading information on the register".

    "We wholeheartedly support the robust tacking of financial crime," he said. "But we need to come up with a global solution to what is a global problem."

    The UK created its own publicly accessible register in 2016.

  13. Disney boss pay curbed

    Bob Iger, chief executive Disney

    Disney has cut the size of the potential pay packet for its chief executive Bob Iger this year.

    Mr Iger's salary, bonus and share scheme have all been pared back. That cuts his potential pay award by $13.5m.

    Last year he made $66m.

    The move comes ahead of the company's annual general meeting on Thursday.

    Last year, in a non-binding vote at the AGM, investors rejected a pay award that could have paid Mr Iger $50m, in event that the deal to buy assets from 21st Century Fox went through.

    "I am proud to be leading the Walt Disney Company through this important time and believe the changes I, with the board, have made are in the best interest of the company," Mr Iger said in a statement.

  14. Ghosn granted bail by Tokyo court

    Carlos Ghosn

    In a surpris decision, the former boss of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has been granted bail by a Tokyo court.

    The court set bail at one billion yen (£6.8m; $8.9m) and Japanese media reports said he could be released as early as Tuesday.

    The auto executive has been in detention for more than three months.

    Read more

  15. Asia markets mixed

    men look at stock boards in Japan

    It's been a fairly muted session so far for markets in Asia.

    Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.6%, while China's Shanghai Composite added 0.1% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1% in afternoon trading.

  16. Chinese Premier unveils tax cuts

    John Sudworth

    China Correspondent

    Deputies to the 13th National People's Congress attend the opening meeting of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress

    The National People's Congress has opened in Beijing with a warning that the economy faces a "tough struggle".

    In his opening address, the Premier Li Keqiang unveiled tax cuts and other measures designed to counter the effects of slowing growth and the US China trade war.

    Growth in consumption is slowing, Li Keqiang said, local budgetary deficits are large and external pressures, especially the US-China trade war, are having an adverse effect.

    In response, he promised tax cuts, more bank lending and, in an announcement that won a loud murmur of approval from the 3,000 delegates, a reduction in road tolls.

  17. Post update

    Ben Morris

    Business reporter

    Good morning!

    Welcome to Tuesday's Business Live page.

    China is cutting taxes to help boost flagging economic growth.

    The chief executive of Disney has seen his pay curbed, ahead of the firm's annual general meeting.

    Plus we'll have more from the Geneva Motor Show.