* U.S. drug retailer CVS Health Corp. announced a deal to purchase Aetna Inc. for about $69 billion, the largest managed care deal in more than two years. The transaction, which is valued at $77 billion, including the American health insurer's debt, is expected to close in the second half of 2018, subject to approval by regulators and shareholders of both companies and other closing conditions. If approved by federal regulators, the deal would put a chain of retail pharmacies, a pharmacy benefit manager and a healthcare provider under the control of a single company.
* The U.K. unit of Toys R Us Inc. said it is seeking creditor approval to reposition its real estate portfolio in a move that could result in the closure of at least 26 stores in the country. In a statement, the company said there would be no disruption to its U.K. operations over the Christmas and New Year's period. The privately owned U.S. company filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors Sept. 18.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Paris-based luxury group Kering SA appointed Grégory Boutté as its chief client and digital officer, effective immediately. Boutté will lead Kering's digital transformation and drive the development of the company's e-commerce, CRM and data management.
* Police in Italy visited the Florence and Milan offices of fashion brand Gucci for fiscal checks related to a tax-evasion probe, Reuters reported, citing a senior source with direct knowledge of the matter. The source reportedly said Milan prosecutors suspected that Gucci might have diverted profit in the country to another country with a less onerous tax regime. Although Gucci "is confident about the correctness and transparency of its operations," a spokeswoman for its owner, luxury goods retailer Kering SA, declined to add further details.
* Billabong International Ltd., an Australian retailer of board sports products, received an indicative and nonbinding proposal from U.S. retailer Boardriders Inc. to acquire all the company's shares at A$1 per share via a scheme of arrangement. Billabong's board allowed Boardriders time to perform due diligence and expects the process to take several weeks. There is no guarantee an offer will be made, it said.
* American sportswear brand Nike Inc. rolled out the Nike Pro Hijab headgear on its online portal and across select retailers in Europe, North Africa, North America and the Middle East. The items are available only in limited colors, but a more expanded range will be offered in January 2018 at select vendors in more than 20 countries and on the company's website.
* Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. opened its first concept store outside the U.S. as planned in Hong Kong's Harbour City shopping center, Inside Retail Hong Kong reported. The 6,800-square-foot store is based on the company's latest store format, which includes adjustable in-store music and charging docks for customers.
* Macy's Inc. will hire an additional 7,000 seasonal associates for its stores nationwide over the holiday period. The additional workers will serve the department store operator's customers on the selling floor and work in other roles, including fulfilling online orders for in-store collection.
* U.S. department store chain J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will discontinue selling the ArgyleCulture clothing line of Russell Simmons following reports of the hip-hop personality's alleged sexual misconduct toward a number of women, Fortune reported, citing an email from a J.C. Penney spokesman. Simmons' ArgyleCulture line was sold at about 80 of 875 J.C. Penney stores and online, the report added. Simmons reportedly has acknowledged that he had been "thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades."
* Amazon.com Inc. launched a U.K. mobile pop-up store called Treasure Truck in London and Manchester that will offer deals on a particular item each day. Customers can sign up to get notifications about the truck's arrival schedule, which the U.S. e-commerce giant expects to roll out to more cities across the country.
* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to boost its foothold in New Zealand as it seeks to draw in more local businesses to its portal, The New Zealand Herald reported. The Chinese e-commerce giant reportedly also plans to roll out its Alipay digital payment service in shops across the country.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s wholly owned Indian subsidiary signed 20 new store locations, about five to seven of which are expected to launch in 2018, India's Mint reported, citing the Press Trust of India's interview with President and CEO Krish Iyer. The big-box retailer's Indian arm, which operates 21 Best Price wholesale stores in nine states across the country, plans to launch 50 more stores by 2022, according to the report.
* Russian grocery retail chain operator X5 Retail Group NV opened its first Karusel hypermarket store in Klin, Moscow, with a sales area of about 4,200 square meters. The store offers 19,000 items, including food products and an in-store bakery.
* Diamond jewelry retailer Signet Jewelers Ltd. said in a regulatory filing that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, on Sept. 6 issued a notice to the company of possible legal action regarding alleged violations relating to its in-store credit practices, including promotions and payment protection products. The company said it responded Sept. 27 to the CFPB that the agency's claims "lack merit," adding that it also is cooperating with the New York attorney general on a similar probe.
* Tour operator Thomas Cook Group plc plans to close 50 stores in the U.K. by the end of March 2018 as part of a review of its retail network. The closures will be in areas with low profit as a result of declining footfall or stores located close to other group outlets, the London-based company said. Thomas Cook's U.K. network includes Co-operative Travel-branded stores after its partner, Co-operative Group Ltd., in 2016 exited the joint venture.
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