Billionaire businessman Mike Ashley faced a tough year in 2018, as his holding company revealed that pre-tax profit fell nearly 80%.

Mash Holdings, the company which controls Mr Ashley's stake in Sports Direct and Newcastle United, said profit before tax reached £20.9 million in the year ending April 2018, in accounts released on Thursday.

The 2017 profit was boosted by the sale of Dunlop and the shares held in JD Sports, while "there was no similar income in 2018," the company said.

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Newcastle United reported media revenue up 166% to £126.4 million as the team was boosted by its promotion to the Premier League. But the cost of buying new players, which is levelled out over the years the player is contracted for, rose by £5.5 million to £41.3 million.

This "reflects the significant level of investment in the playing squad," Mash said in a statement filed with Companies House.

Overall revenue increased 64% at Newcastle and 3.5% at Sports Direct, leading to an overall rise of 5.2% for Mash Holdings.

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Meanwhile, the holding company said it was unable to "fully protect" Sports Direct from the impact Brexit might have. At its Shirebrook warehouse the firm is investing in machines to replace European workers who might leave after Britain departs the EU.

"We have been investing in some partial automation for the Shirebrook warehouse operations to make efficiencies and improve productivity on internet fulfilment orders and help mitigate any potential staffing shortfall after Brexit," it said.

The retailer is also working with a network of warehouses across the continent which can help manage stock once the impacts of Brexit are fully understood.

British Airways owner IAG has seen earnings knocked by a €155 million (£134 million) hit from a summer of strike action as the UK carrier faced the first industrial action by pilots in its history.

The group revealed a 6.9% drop in third-quarter underlying operating profits to 1.4 billion euros (£1.2 billion) and reiterated last month's profit warning that the impact of the strikes would leave 2019 earnings 215 million euros (£186 million) - or 6% - lower.

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It comes after the unprecedented action by BA pilots saw the airline cancel thousands of flights early last month amid a long-running dispute over pay.

Members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) were due to walk out for a further 24 hours on September 27, following the 48-hour stoppage, but the further action was called off to allow talks.

The boards of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot have announced fast-moving plans to merge the two companies creating the world's fourth-largest vehicle maker with enough scale to confront "the new era in mobility".

The merger would bring together Italian-American Fiat Chrysler, with its strong footprint in North America where it makes at least two-thirds of its profits, and France's PSA Peugeot, the number two maker in Europe.

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Both lag in China, despite the participation of the Chinese shareholder Dongfeng in PSA Peugeot, and are catching up in the transition to electrified powertrains.

The 50-50 merger is expected to create synergies of €3.7 billion (£3.2 billion), a figure the firms said they expect to achieve without any factory closures - a concern of unions in the UK, France and Italy where the makers have more model overlap.

The new company would have combined revenues of €170 billion (£146 billion), an operating profit of over €11 billion (£9.5 billion) and produce 8.7 million cars a year - behind Toyota, Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan alliance.

The combined market capitalisation would be around $50 billion (£43 billion).