French Connection share price jumps as it unveils plans to sell premium lifestyle brand Toast

French Connection said the sale may enable it to start paying dividends to shareholders again
Shares in fashion retailer French Connection jumped almost 20 per cent on Monday morning, after the group revealed plans to sell Toast for £23.3m and said the deal may allow it to start paying a dividend again.
French Connection is selling its 75 per cent holding in the brand along with Toast founders Jamie and Jessica Seaton, who are selling their 25 per cent stake, to Bestseller United, which owns a range of retailers including Jack & Jones and Vero Moda.
Read more Toast Of The Town: The artisanal lifestyle brand turns 15 The group said it expects the deal to result in net cash proceeds of £13.9m for French Connection, after the payment of management exit awards, the amounts due to the Seatons under the terms of the shareholders' agreement, and transaction costs.
The company added: “Should the disposal be achieved the company will review its ongoing dividend policy with a view ..

World's 'big four' accounting firms face £10m fines for serious breaches

The FRC is cracking down on PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloiite for poor audit work
The world’s Big Four accounting firms will face potential fines of £10m or more for serious rule breaches from June, double the record penalty to date.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said on Monday that it has accepted the findings of a study in November by former judge Christopher Clarke, which recommended much bigger fines for serious misdeeds by the world’s biggest accountants.
Larger fines are part of the FRC’s push to bolster its credibility after being heavily criticised by MPs for being too slow to take on the big accountants caught up in company scandals.
Read more PwC’s Carillion role looks like ‘massive conflict of interest’ says MP
Under the FRC’s disciplinary procedure, it sets out a case against an auditor or individual accountant at an independent tribunal before asking the tribunal to set a fine at a specific level. The record amount agreed by a tribunal so far is £5.1m for PwC ove..

McDonald's faces more strikes as workers balloted over pay and zero-hours contracts

'We are the McStrikers, and we will not be silent, we will not be scared,' says employee Tristan Bentley
McDonald’s faces a fresh round of strikes as a union ballots members at six restaurants across the UK. The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has notified the fast food chain about the ballot and said industrial action will take place next year if workers vote for it.
McDonald’s employees at Crayford, Manchester, Cambridge, one central London branch and two outlets in Watford are involved.
Ian Hodson, president of the BFAWU, said on Monday that union representatives from six stores wished to be balloted on issues of pay, unequal wages for young workers, and to demand to be given a choice of fixed hours.
Read more McDonald's workers 'over the moon' about pay rise but vow to fight on “The union is committed to supporting its members and campaigning for £10 an hour, an end to zero-hour contracts, and to give McDonald’s workers a voice,” Mr ..

UK businesses intent on hiring at record high, new research shows

Business output rises to a seven month high as employers intend to hire more
UK firms’ hiring intentions are at record highs as business output hit a seven month high, new research shows.
Accountant and business advisor BDO said on Monday that its monthly Optimism Index, which measures how firms expect their order books to develop over the next six months, saw UK business output rise up to 100.05 in March from 99.78 in February.
It says the rise bucks the average long-term trend of 100, and is the highest reading since August last year.
Read more UK economy will be worst in G7 this year, City bosses warn Business optimism increased in March to 102.26, up year-on-year from 100.92.
The company’s employment index, which indicates firm’s hiring intentions, rose by over 4 points to 112.09 in March compared to the same period last year.
The BDO says this is the highest ever projection it has made for employment, and says the trend will continue as UK businesses invest more in peopl..

Rolls-Royce to boost balance sheet with £610m sale of technology business L'Orange

The engineering group's chief exec said the deal was part of a wider strategy of simplifying the business
Rolls-Royce has agreed to sell technology firm L’Orange to US aerospace group Woodward for €700m (£610m).
The group said the proceeds of the sale will be re-invested into the company “to improve the resilience of the balance sheet”.
Read more Rolls Royce warns Brexit will disrupt global supply chain L’Orange is a Stuttgart-based subsidiary of Rolls-Royce’s power systems business with 1,000 employees based in Germany, the US and China.
The firm, which supplies fuel injection technology for specialist engines, has agreed a long-term supply agreement to remain an “important” partner of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, for an initial period of 15 years.
Warren East, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said the deal was another step in the group’s plan to simplify the business.
Selling L’Orange, Mr East said, will allow Rolls-Royce Power Systems to “focus on other long-term, hi..

Average UK house price rose to a record high in first quarter of 2018

The bank said UK mortgages are the most affordable they have been in a decade
House prices across the UK rose 2.7 per cent in the first three months of 2018, compared with the same period of last year, according to the Halifax house price index.
The average price hit £227,871 in March, the highest on record, however, prices for the quarter were 0.1 per cent lower compared to the previous three months.
Meanwhile, Halifax said mortgages in the UK are “at their most affordable level in a decade”, with activity in the housing market slower than this time last year.
Read more First 'digital mortgage' signed online in London The bank said there are “no signs that the acute shortage of stock of homes available for sale is easing”.
Home sales in February stood at 101,000, the same as in January. Mortgage approvals dropped by 5 per cent between the first and second months of the year, according to Bank of England data.
“Mortgage approvals are down compared to 12 months ag..