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Co-op Group posts first annual loss since 2013

The Co-operative Group rote off the value of its stake in the Co-operative Bank Credit: PA

The Co-operative Group has fallen into the red for the first time since 2013 after writing off the value of its stake in the troubled Co-operative Bank.

The mutual revealed pre-tax losses of £132 million for 2016 as it took a £185 million hit after slashing the value of its 20% holding in the Co-operative Bank to zero.

The Co-operative Bank has been put up for sale amid concerns over its balance sheet strength as it continues to suffer following its 2013 rescue after the discovery of a £1.5 billion black hole in its finances, which left it majority controlled by US hedge funds.

The group posted profits of £23 million in 2015.

It said the move to write off its stake in the Co-op Bank was a "prudent valuation" amid "volatility" caused by the ongoing sale process.

We've made great progress in rebuilding our Co-op, with all our businesses delivering strong performances.

While much remains to be done, our rebuild plans have really started to deliver value for our customers, our members and their communities.

– Steve Murrells, group chief executive of the Co-op

The group gave a cautious outlook for the year ahead, warning: "All of our markets remain fiercely competitive and we face a challenging consumer and economic backdrop."

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Lloyds Bank to close further 100 branches

Lloyds Bank is facing fresh anger over the closure of a further 100 branches, resulting in more than 200 job losses.

Unite said the "continuous stream" of branch closures by the UK's retail banks appeared to show no signs of ending.

The union said the announcement will affect 54 Lloyds branches, 22 Halifax branches and 24 Bank of Scotland branches.

Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer, said: "The loss of a further 100 local banks will be painful for high streets across the country to absorb.

"Unite is angered that another 200 staff have today been told that their job will be cut due to their branch shutting.

"Lloyds Banking Group's rationale for branch closures is the claimed customer preference towards the use of technology across banking."

BMW workers vote to strike over pension dispute

Credit: PA

BMW workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a dispute over pensions, the Unite union has announced.

Members of the union backed walkouts by 93%, with 97% supporting alternative forms of industrial action.

Unite said that closure of the BMW occupational pension scheme by the end of May could see some workers lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "BMW needs to reflect on this extraordinary vote in favour of industrial action and the real possibility that its UK workforce will strike for the first time under its ownership in the coming weeks.

"It won't be a step which will be taken lightly, but the vote in favour of action shows a determination by workers who have contributed massively to BMW's record revenues to stand up for their pensions."

Lloyd's of London to set up Brussels base after Brexit

Lloyd's of London wants to maintain a presence in Europe. Credit: AP

Insurance market Lloyd's of London is to establish a subsidiary in Brussels to maintain a presence in Europe once Britain leaves the EU.

The company confirmed the plans as it unveiled its full-year results, with profits flat for 2016 after the firm wrestled with "extremely challenging" conditions driven by pricing pressures.

Its decision to choose the Belgian capital as its preferred site for an EU base was made during a meeting of the firm's franchise board on Tuesday.

It is believed the move will result in around 100 jobs being shifted from London, though that number could rise as the insurance market establishes itself in the Belgian capital.

Lloyd's said it was aiming to start work at the Brussels office from January 1, 2019.

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