The world's biggest property investor is buying a British flexible office provider in a deal that will be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the UK economy as Brexit talks get underway.Sky News has learnt that Blackstone, the private equity giant whose activities include managing more than €140bn of real estate assets, will announce on Monday the purchase of a controlling stake in The Office Group.The transaction will value the privately owned landlord of corporate clients such as Facebook and Santander UK at £500m, according to insiders.The timing of the deal, which comes at a time of conflicting signals about the outlook for UK commercial property, will be seen as a sign that global investors remain confident in its prospects.The beginning of formal talks between the UK and the Europ
The UK's wealth gap has been widening over the past decade, a report says. Think tank the Resolution Foundation estimates 1% of adults, some 488,000 people, own 14% of the nation's assets - worth about £11 trillion. At the other end of the financial scale, 15% (7.3 million people) either own no assets at all, or are in debt. The government has responded to the findings by insisting that income inequality is at its lowest level since the mid-1980s. The Resolution Foundation says it is non-partisan and was founded in 2005, with "the goal of improving living standards for the 15 million people in Britain on low and middle incomes".'Wealth gap'The foundation says the spreading of property wealth in the mid-1990s and mid-2000s fuelled a decade-long fall in wealth inequality - but that progress
Online retail giant Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a $ 13.7bn (£10.7bn) deal that marks its biggest push into traditional retailing yet.Amazon, which has long eyed the grocery business, will buy the upmarket supermarket for $ 42 a share.Investors greeted the deal as game-changing for the industry, sending shares of rival grocers plunging.But Whole Foods, which had been under pressure, climbed.Founded in 1978 in Texas, Whole Foods was a pioneer of the move towards natural and organic foods. It has grown to more than 460 stores in the US, Canada and the UK, and employs about 87,000 people.Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said: "Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy."Whole Foods Mark
The Government is targeting a bigger-than-expected sale of mortgage loans taken on by taxpayers during the financial crisis amid continued doubt about the proceeds it will receive from its vast stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).Sky News has learnt that ministers are preparing to sell a £6bn portfolio of buy-to-let and residential mortgages, the vast majority of which were issued by Bradford & Bingley (B&B).Sources said that a smaller chunk of the loan-book being put up for sale relates to assets acquired from GMAC-RFC and Kensington Mortgages before the banking crisis emerged in the UK in 2007, when Northern Rock found itself unable to fund itself in wholesale financing markets.The Treasury had originally identified about £3bn of mortgages to be sold later this year, with Morga
Business confidence has plunged because of the political uncertainty gripping the nation following the election, a lobby group has said.The hung parliament has triggered a "dramatic drop" in confidence, according to a survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD).A snap poll of its 700 members found a negative swing of 34 points in confidence in the UK economy since its last survey in May.The majority cited Brexit and growing concerns about the country's immigration system once Britain leaves the European Union as a priority issue for Theresa May's minority government to address.In particular, employers told the IoD that they were worried about a future talent drain and demanded clarity on the status of EU workers in the UK, coupled with a plan for a higher skilled domestic workforce.Video:'T...