Profits at car dealership Lookers slumped in the first half of the year as sales of new vehicles in Britain continued to decline.

Profit before tax dropped 39.7 per cent to £24.9 million in the six months to June 30.

In the same period, revenue rose 2.7% to £2.65 billion.
New car sales were down 1.2% on a like-for-like basis, though this was still stronger than the market average of a 3.4% decline.

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Chief executive Andy Bruce said restructuring efforts are under way, with about £10 million in one-off investments being ploughed into future growth.

"Our performance for the first half reflects an ongoing backdrop of challenging UK market conditions for the sector," he said.

"Whilst we are reporting lower profits year-on-year, we have made good progress on a number of strategic initiatives and have a clear investment plan to restructure and strengthen our regulated activities."

The decline in profitability was flagged last month, when the company said it was expecting underlying pre-tax profits to be lower due to the increasingly challenging backdrop of declining car sales.

Telecoms giant BT Group saw its shares dip after confirming plans to delist from the New York Stock Exchange, focusing its attentions on its London listing.

BT said it intends to delist its American depositary shares and will terminate its American depositary receipt programme next month.

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In a statement to investors, the FTSE 100 firm said the move is aimed at reducing reporting costs and will make its reporting process less complex.

It said it remains committed to its US investor base, colleagues and customer despite the move, and will continue to engage with US equity and debt investors.

It said it will delist its US depositary shares by September 13.

Shares in BT were down 1.8% to 169p.

Insurance giant Prudential confirmed it will spin off its UK and European arm by the end of the year as it posted a hike in half-year profits.

The group said it expects to complete its demerger of M&GPrudential in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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The move will create a separate FTSE 100 listed company with a market capitalisation reportedly estimated at around £7 billion.

Details of the split came as the company reported operating profits of £2.02 billion for the six months to June 30, excluding M&GPrudential - up 14% with currency movements stripped out.

Profits were 21% higher on a reported basis.

The group said it was "carefully monitoring" developments in Hong Kong as the city continues to be thrown into chaos by anti-government protests.

Prudential chief executive Mike Wells said the firm was taking "appropriate measures" for its Hong Kong employees, but declined to comment further.

The company has a raft of offices in Hong Kong, including a regional head office, life assurance firm and agency force.

The group, which has been based in Hong Kong since 1964, declined to comment on whether the protests have had an impact on trading since the first half.

It said the US-China trade war had not held back progress in mainland China, where sales soared 45% in the first half as it expands its network in the country.

On the M&G demerger, Mr Wells said: "We believe that the demerger will enable both businesses to maximise their potential performance."