The parent company of British Airways and Iberia, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), has bought rival Spanish airline Air Europa for €1 billion (£860 million).

Executives said the deal is aimed at transforming IAG's Madrid Airport base into a "true rival" to the four major European hubs of Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Heathrow and Paris Charles De Gaulle.

The company also said it hopes the deal will help IAG re-emerge as a significant player in the Europe-to-Latin America and Caribbean markets.

Air Europa and its 66 planes will continue to trade under its own name for the time being but will be overseen by Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego.

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IAG head Willie Walsh said: "Acquiring Air Europa would add a new competitive, cost-effective airline to IAG, consolidating Madrid as a leading European hub and resulting in IAG achieving South Atlantic leadership, therefore generating additional financial value for our shareholders.

"IAG has a strong track record of successful acquisitions, most recently with the acquisition of Aer Lingus in 2015, and we are convinced Air Europa presents a strong strategic fit for the group."

Mr Walsh has made clear in the past that he believes consolidation of airlines in Europe is expected to continue as smaller brands struggle.

He also recently revealed that IAG has been looking at the landing slots left vacant at Gatwick Airport following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

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The deal, likely to be completed next year, is expected to generate cost savings across the group, with full synergies achieved by 2025.

Air Europa operates scheduled domestic and international flights to 69 destinations, including European and long-haul routes to Latin America, the United States, the Caribbean and North Africa.

In 2018, Air Europa generated revenue of 2.1 billion euros (£1.8 billion) and an operating profit of 100 million euros (£86.2 million), carrying 11.8 million passengers in 2018.

Pub group Marston's has sold 137 pubs to rival Admiral Taverns for £44.9 million.

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Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay said: "We are making good progress with our plans to reduce our net debt by £200 million by 2023, in part through the disposal of non-core assets.

"We are encouraged by the level of market interest that this portfolio of pubs has attracted. This further underpins our confidence in achieving the accelerated £70 million disposal proceeds target that we have set ourselves for the current year."

He added that the pubs being sold are primarily smaller tenanted and franchise sites which are drinks- or "wet-led", generating £4.8 million of underlying pretax profits.

Marston's insisted the deal will help average profit per pub increase by around 7% as it pushes towards a more premium offer.

Admiral said the deal is part of its strategy to integrate and develop "sustainable tenanted pub businesses", coming just weeks after snapping up 150 pubs from the Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars business.

Chief executive Chris Jowsey, who joined from Star Pubs in the summer, said: "We remain fully committed to the leased and tenanted model and through this acquisition have been able to acquire an excellent portfolio of pubs which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach."

He was backed by Admiral investors Proprium Capital Partners and C&C Group, and has seen the business form a partnership with experienced managed-operator Helen Standing, to help with the integration.

Mothercare has announced plans to place its UK retail business in administration, putting around 2,500 jobs at risk.

The children's retailer, which has 79 UK stores, said it will file a notice of intent to appoint administrators for the UK business later on Monday.

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Mothercare UK slumped to a £36.9 million loss in the financial year to March, as it has struggled amid a period of turmoil for high street retailers.

The retailer, which has around 500 full-time staff and 2,000 part-time employees.

The global Mothercare group said it has undertaken a review of the UK business and found that it is "not capable of returning to a level of structural profitability".

It said the business is therefore unable to satisfy the cash needs of the UK arm and is therefore filing the notice as part of the restructuring and refinancing process.