The 10 biggest business stories on Friday March 4

Facebook agrees to pay millions more in UK corporation tax following; Tech giants unite behind Apple in FBI battle; Bob Diamond eyes Barclays Africa assets

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The Independent Online

1.    Tech giants including Google, Facebook and Microsoft have backed Apple in its battle with US authorities over encryption on its devices.

2.    Bob Diamond, the former Barclays chief executive, is approaching investors to back a takeover for a part of the bank’s African business, according to a report.

3.    Facebook will pay millions of pounds in tax to the British Government. The profits will now be subject to corporation tax, of which it paid just £4,327 in 2014.

4.    More than 2,000 jobs could be at risk under proposals that could see BHS axe up to a quarter of its stores across the UK. The beleaguered retailer is proposing putting its 164 stores into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in order to slash its rents and exit loss-making sites, less than a year after the chain was sold for a token £1 by the retail veteran Sir Philip Green.

5.    New UK care sales rose 8.4 per cent to 83,395 in February, the strongest performance for the month since 2004, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said.

6.    Budget airline Easyjet says its passenger numbers increased 9.8 per cent in February to 4.9 million, but its load factor - how much capacity is used on its flights - fell 0.4 per cent to 90.5 per cent.

7.    An Air France Airbus A320 narrowly avoided colliding with a drone as it was about to land in Paris on a flight from Barcelona, France's aviation investigation agency (BEA) said.

8.    Christine Lagarde speaks in Massachusetts. The head of the International Monetary Fund makes her first comments since a G20 meeting in Shanghai saw nations agree to do more to stimulate economic growth. Analysts will want to know whether she has any further suggestions.

9.    Samsonite said on Friday it would buy Tum for $26.75 per share in an all-cash transaction valuing Tumi at $1.8 billion, as the world's biggest luggage group expands in the luxury market.

10.    China’s military budget will be increased by between seven to eight per cent this year compared with 2015, China’s National People’s Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying announced on Friday.