Friday's business news

Co-operative group to axe 1,000 jobs; Investment company Baugur denies Debenhams bid; Software firm iSoft agrees £160m offer.

The Co-operative is set to axe up to 1,000 jobs at its financial services businesses, it was reported today.

The cuts at the Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) division - which include online bank Smile, the Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance - amount to about 10% of the group’s 10,000 staff, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Manchester, where the Co-op is one of the city’s biggest employers, will bear the brunt of the job losses, the newspaper says.

CFS, which declined to comment ahead of a statement later today, has 90 retail banks and 11 corporate banking branches across the UK.

Icelandic investment group Baugur today moved to dampen speculation that it is mulling a bid for department store chain Debenhams.

Baugur, which has built up a near-8% stake in Debenhams, has been linked with a potential bid since its millionaire founder Jon Asgeir Johannesson praised the business and boasted of a £600m acquisition warchest in a recent interview.

The company said today it had "no current intention" to make an offer for the business, or to increase its shareholding to the 30% level which would oblige it to make an offer.

Under takeover rules, Baugur is now barred from making a potential bid for the next six months unless Debenhams’ board agrees or another company emerges with an offer.

NHS software firm iSoft today agreed a £160m offer from German software company CompuGroup.

The announcement marks a switch of allegiance for Manchester-based iSoft, which had previously recommended a £132.3m bid from Australian software firm IBA Health.

Under the deal, CompuGroup has agreed to sell parts of iSoft’s UK businesses working on a new £12bn NHS patient records database to US company Computer Sciences Corporation, the firm which subcontracts the NHS work to iSoft.

The pound at noon was US$2.0514 compared to US$2.0482 at the previous close while the euro at noon was £0.6721 compared to £0.6740 at the previous close.

For more on these and other stories see nebusiness in tomorrow’s Journal.

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