New Look and Iceland supermarket investor Brait said it plans to sell off assets over the next five years in a bid to shore up its finances.

The South African investment firm, which is also the majority owner of gym brand Virgin Active, also saw its shares plunge as it announced a major rights issue.

Brait said it plans to adopt a new strategy which will focus on returning capital to shareholders over the next five years through asset sales.

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It said that the "recapitalisation of assets" will reduce and extend the maturities of its debt, providing the opportunity to focus on growth elsewhere in its portfolio.

The company also plans to launch an equity capital fundraiser for up to 5.6 billion Rand (£300 billion) as it seeks to pay debts ahead of fast-approaching deadlines.

The restructuring proposals include a specific 350 million Rand (£18.4 million) issue to private equity firm Ethos, ahead of a deadline for Brait to pay off a bond worth the same figure which matures in September 2020.

Jabu Moleketi, chairman of Brait, said: "The deal represents a positive step forward and a holistic solution for Brait following extensive discussions to materially reduce the debt on its balance sheet.

"We have a portfolio of distinctive, financially strong and cash generative investments and have today outlined a way forward that involves a strategic change of direction."

Brait said Iceland turnover has risen by 2.4% over the 24 weeks to September 13, driven by the opening of 29 stores across the UK.

British American Tobacco (BAT) chief Jack Bowles, who has headed the group since April this year, said that the company had managed to grow its new categories segment, which is largely based on vapes, despite a slowdown in the US.

New categories, which includes Vype and Vuze, grew at the lower end of BAT's 30% to 50% target as US customers remained wary of the new technology.

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"Increased investment and new product launches are delivering good new category revenue growth in the second half, despite the recent slowdown in the US vapour market," Mr Bowles said.

He said: "We believe that the issues around vaping in the US should lead to a better and stronger regulatory environment in which we are well-placed to succeed."

BAT said it had gained in market share, capturing 17.5 of the market, by value, through the Vuse family of vaping products in the US.

Vype has captured 11.8% of the UK market by value, and 19.2% in France. In Canada the vape has captured 27.6% of the market.

BAT's performance in its combustibles segment, which includes cigarette brands such as Camel and Lucky Strike, was largely in line with expectations.

Shop prices have fallen for a sixth consecutive month as retailers enticed customers with ever deeper price cuts to offset political upheaval, figures show.

Overall prices fell 0.5% in November compared to a 0.4% decrease in October as retailers enticed shoppers with discounts amid economic and political uncertainty, according to the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

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Non-food prices fell by 1.6% while food inflation eased to 1.4% from 1.6% in October.

Prices were driven down in part by a strong crop of fresh fruit in the UK and a fall in the global price of dairy.