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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

An eventful seven days have seen significant strides made in attempts to resolve the Greek crisis, a jump in shares for Ladbrokes following merger talks, good news for small businesses as confidence grows, and students questioning the value for money they are receiving after the introduction of higher fees.  


Greece lays out new debt deal terms

Greece has attempted to end the stalemate over its debt crisis by laying out the terms of its new proposals to Eurozone leaders. The new plans have been largely welcomed, and there is hope they might lead to an agreement that could prevent a default on Greece's loan repayments in the near future.

The suggestions have been described as "a positive step forward" by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated: "I am convinced that we will come to a final agreement in the course of the week."

The proposals include new taxes on the wealthy and businesses. It is hoped the plans will provide the struggling nation with the boost it needs as it seeks to repay a £1.1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund by the end of June. There is a risk that failure to do so could result in the country leaving the Eurozone. 

Merger talks lead to Ladbrokes shares rise

Ladbrokes saw its shares climb by more than 10% on Tuesday morning following confirmation the bookmaker is discussing the possibility of a merger with Gala Coral Group. Jim Mullen, Ladbrokes Chief Executive, explained the company's board is weighing up whether pursuing the merger is a strategically attractive move.

In a statement, Mr Mullen said: "A merger with Gala Coral could create a combined business with significant scale and has the potential to generate substantial cost synergies, creating value for both companies' shareholders."

The move could also benefit the bookmaker as it looks to cope with a string of gaming taxes that were brought into play in the betting sector earlier this year. 

Small business confidence 'on the up'

Confidence among small businesses in the UK has climbed markedly in recent months, pointing to continued growth for the sector this year. This is according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which revealed its small business index has shown a robust improvement over the past quarter.

The FSB explained that investment, productivity and job creation are all showing positive signs at present, which should assist small businesses as they look to grow and prosper throughout the remainder of the year.

FSB National Chairman John Allan described the results as "very positive", adding they "show the major role that small businesses play in the growth of the UK's economy". 

Students question university value for money

Students are calling into question whether higher tuition fees are offering them real value for money, new research has suggested. Carried out by ComRes for BBC Radio 5 live, the survey found that four in ten of the first students to pay increased fees of up to £9,000 a year following the climb in costs in 2012 do not believe their courses offered good value.

Respondents were drawn from those in the final year of their degree courses in 2015. The poll showed that just over half of those questioned think their course was good value for money, with 8% unsure of their answer.

The findings also revealed that just under half (46%) would do the same course again if they had the option to do so.