The UK's biggest estate agent chain has been forced to delay the sale of its commercial real estate division due to the founder of the buyers "being indisposed" in January.

Countrywide had revealed in November that a sale to Great Global Holdings for £38 million had been agreed, with shareholders voting it through in December.

On Friday, it said the deal was delayed because John Bengt Moeller - the founder of Great Global - was "indisposed" last month, adding there were "logistical difficulties relating to the transfer of the requisite completion monies".

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Countrywide added: "We have been re-assured by Mr Moeller that completion is imminent. The company continues to work with Mr Moeller to resolve this situation urgently and is taking all necessary steps to achieve completion as soon as possible."

Further details on the reasons for the delay to the sale of Countrywide's Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) were not provided.

Shares dropped 11.8p, or 3.2%, at 352.2p by late morning on Friday.

The firm had previously revealed the EU referendum result and stamp duty changes had dented confidence. It put LSH up for sale in 2016, having only bought it in 2013.

Holiday giant Tui is set to bank €700 million (£593 million) after selling its cruises business to a joint venture it already owns with Royal Caribbean.

The FTSE 100 firm said the deal to essentially roll Hapag-Lloyd Cruises into the joint venture will allow the company to use the cash for improving its online operations and tap further into the luxury cruise market.

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Hapag-Lloyd currently sells cruises in German-speaking markets, with two five-star luxury ships and three expedition ships.

With the collapse of Thomas Cook, Tui is keen to mop up any extra business boost it can, with UK customers a potential focus.

It said the move will boost profits at a time when the industry is under pressure from the global economic slowdown.

The company is also waiting for the return of the grounded Boeing 737 Max.

Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen said: "We're changing the ownership structure behind the brand to facilitate stronger, faster and capital-light growth.

"At the same time, we use the proceeds to drive Tui's digital transformation."

The joint venture - Tui Cruises - was launched alongside Royal Caribbean in 2008.

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With an enterprise value of £1 billion, it will now have a fleet of 12 ships across the world.

Mr Joussen added: "Tui and Royal Caribbean Cruises have developed the joint venture company on the basis of a strong partnership over the past 10 years.

"The expansion decision is the next big step of growth for us - from a strategic and a commercial perspective."

Around 12,000 employees at owner Admiral Group will pocket a £500 bonus.

It comes after the company said that pre-tax profit would jump between 6% and 13% to between £510 million and £540 million.

It was especially buoyed after money it had reserved for bodily injury payouts from car crashes was released at a higher rate than expected.

It comes ahead of final results for 2019 at the beginning of March.