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Branson recalls tears, $1 billion check in Virgin Records sale

LONDON (Reuters) - Virgin Group founder Richard Branson recalled that selling his Virgin Records music label more than two decades ago was "like selling your children" even though he pocketed a billion dollars in the deal.

Unilever whitening brand defends cash prize for Thai students

A Thai company owned by consumer goods giant Unilever on Tuesday rejected accusations of discrimination after its competition featuring a skin whitener and offering university "scholarships" was seen as favouring paler-skinned students. Citra Thailand, which describes itself as a leading brand for "white skin products", has aired a television advert set on a university campus in which two presenters ask female students what would make them "outstanding in uniform".

BSkyB signs deal with Twitter to show Champions League clips

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's dominant pay-TV provider BSkyB has struck a deal with social networking site Twitter to show clips from European Champions League soccer matches to help promote its new contract-free online service. The clips will be fed through Twitter's promoted Tweets via cross-platform service Grabyo Studio. They will help to drive additional advertising and sponsorship revenues for the social media network ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering in New York.

BSkyB posts falling first-quarter profits

British pay-TV giant BSkyB said on Thursday that net profits sank in the first quarter of its financial year, hit by rising investment costs and a challenging trading environment. Profits after taxation fell almost 12 percent to £193 million ($309 million, 228 million euros) in the three months to September 30, compared with £219 million in the same part of last year, BSkyB said in a results statement. Earnings were hit by heavy investment in new services and a more expensive broadcasting deal to screen English Premier League football matches.

Burberry names Bailey CEO as Ahrendts quits for Apple

By James Davey and Kate Holton LONDON (Reuters) - Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts, who has overseen a doubling in sales and a 250-percent jump in the shares of the British fashion brand, will leave to take up a job at Apple next year and hand over to creative director Christopher Bailey. Shares in the 157-year-old group, which is best known for its camel, red and black check pattern, fell 7.6 percent on Tuesday after Burberry said the 42-year-old Bailey would act as both chief creative officer and chief executive.

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts resigns to join Apple

British luxury fashion group Burberry on Tuesday said its long-serving Chief Executive Officer Angela Ahrendts will step down next year to take up a position with Apple. She is to be replaced by Burberry's Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, who will retain his existing title alongside becoming the company's CEO. "Burberry today announces that Angela Ahrendts will step down as chief executive officer by mid-2014 to take up a new position with Apple," said a statement to the London Stock Exchange ahead of the market open.

Etihad doubles stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9%

Etihad Airways said Thursday it had nearly doubled its stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9 percent as it continues to deepen their strategic partnership. The national airline of the United Arab Emirates, which operates from its hub in Abu Dhabi, said it had now reached the stake level approved by the Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board. Chief executive James Hogan said in a statement the increased stake reflects Etihad's commitment to the Australian market and to the 10-year strategic partnership it concluded with Virgin Australia in 2010.

WH Smith looks overseas to make up for low growth in UK

LONDON (Reuters) - British books, newspaper and stationery retailer WH Smith <SMWH.L> plans to open up to 40 stores a year in overseas markets as far-flung as Azerbaijan and Fiji as it seeks a new profit stream to add to its mature UK high street business. The 221-year-old group said on Thursday its travel division, made up of outlets at airports, railway stations, motorway service stations, hospitals and workplaces, had secured contracts for 20 new units - including six in Australia, four in Ireland, four in the Middle East and two in Russia.

Delta, Virgin win US antitrust immunity for tie-up

The US government Monday granted Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways antitrust immunity for their proposed transatlantic joint venture, saying it would likely boost competition. The Department of Transportation said it had approved the request from the two airlines for protection from prosecution over antitrust issues. "We have concluded that, overall, the alliance and joint venture will be pro-competitive and are likely to generate substantial public benefits to the traveling public," DOT said in its order.

US DOT approves Delta-Virgin Atlantic joint venture, allowing collaboration on US-UK flights

ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines Inc. says it can begin its joint venture with Virgin Atlantic now that they have antitrust immunity from the U.S. Transportation Department. The antitrust immunity announced on Monday means Delta and Virgin Atlantic can work together on scheduling flights, and share the profits. The airlines plan to have a combined 32 round-trip flights per day, including 24 that leave from London's Heathrow airport.
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