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Campbell closes sale of Arnott's to KKR; China refutes forced labor allegations


* Campbell Soup Co. said it completed the sale of Arnott's Biscuits Ltd. and certain international operations, including Kelsen Group A/S, for about $2.5 billion to private equity firm KKR & Co. Inc. The New Jersey-based food and beverage producer has also concluded the divestiture of its refrigerated-foods business.

* China refuted allegations of forced labor at a Shanghai prison following reports that Christmas cards sold by Tesco PLC were packed by inmates, Reuters reported. Tesco suspended production at a Chinese factory, saying it abhors the use of prison labor and would not allow it in its supply chain. "I can responsibly say, according to the relevant organs, Shanghai's Qingpu prison does not have this issue of foreign prisoners being forced to work," China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.


* Inc. is taking legal action to fight paid reviews on its platform by companies U.K.'s Metro reported. This comes after a Daily Mail investigation found some companies are paying fake "testers" to post four- and five-star ratings for £13 a time by rogue marketing firms.


* Shares of India's United Breweries Ltd. rose 4.3% following reports that Heineken NV may offer to acquire another 10%-15% of the company, Economic Times (India) reported. Heineken owns more than 45% of United Breweries.

* Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings Company Ltd. is set to review its operations in Myanmar after its partnership with a military-linked business drew criticism from human rights groups, Financial Times reported. The announcement comes shortly after Kirin received shareholder approval to take over Fort Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing Company Inc.

* Indonesian coffee chain Kopi Kenangan secured over $20 million in funding from investors including rapper Jay-Z and tennis player Serena Williams, the company's CEO Edward Tirtanata told The Jakarta Post. Williams invested through her Serena Ventures company, while Jay-Z made the investment through his venture capital firm Arrive, a unit of entertainment management company Roc Nation Company, Edward added. Kopi Kenangan plans to add over 1,000 new stores over the next two years and expand across Southeast Asia.

* Production at three Coca-Cola Co. plants in north India was disrupted following the company's decision to divest operations of its bottling unit, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Ltd. to existing bottlers, India's Mint reported, citing three people with direct knowledge of the matter. Coca-Cola India did not respond to Mint's request for comment.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.15% to 27,864.21, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.04% to 23,830.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.09% to 7,630.15, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.13% to 1,154.45.

On the macro front

The Redbook index for retail sales and Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index reports are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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