Business news: Lush | AIA Group | China-EC talks

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THE HUSBAND and wife team behind Lush Cosmetics, which recently opened a spa on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, have shared a multi-million-pound windfall after a jump in profits.

Mark and Mo Constantine own about 60 per cent of the firm, which they founded in 1994. Lush paid out dividends of £5.8 million, up from £1.8m a year ago, as profits soared 23 per cent to £26.2m in the year to June 2012. Turnover grew 20 per cent to £326m.

The Dorset-based company, which has more than 800 shops around the world, also donated £1.7m to a range of charities and good causes during the year.

Hong Kong police probe exchange

Asia’s third-largest insurer, AIA Group, said yesterday that Barry Cheung had resigned from its board just days after Hong Kong police launched an investigation into the commodities exchange he founded two years ago.

Cheung, appointed to AIA’s board in September 2012, stepped down last week from all government positions he held, as an inquiry into alleged irregularities at the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange deepened.

The exchange, which traded gold and silver futures, gave up its operating licence last week, saying it had insufficient revenues to support its costs.

China and EC to hold trade talks

China was expected to hold talks with the European Commission today to discuss a trade row over solar panels and wireless equipment, laying the ground for formal negotiations.

China’s vice-minister for commerce, Zhong Shan, will meet EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht in Brussels to discuss EU investigations into Chinese solar panels and wireless equipment, the ministry said yesterday.

The EU accuses China of unfairly pricing its solar panels and mobile telecom devices too cheaply and “dumping” them in Europe.

No debate on tax deal with America

Switzerland’s parliament may only get to vote on a general legal framework for a tax agreement with US authorities that would pave the way for individual solutions with banks, local media reported yesterday.

Lorenz Hess, vice-president of finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf’s BDP party, said: “Parliament will determine the legal framework allowing the banks to negotiate individual solutions with the US. The results of state secretary Michael Ambuehl’s negotiations will not be discussed directly in parliament.”