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Coca-Cola to retain Africa unit stake; LVMH Moët Hennessy to buy French winery

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Coca-Cola to retain Africa unit stake; LVMH Moët Hennessy to buy French winery

TOP NEWS

* Coca-Cola Co. said it will retain its controlling stake in its bottling business unit Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Ltd., or CCBA, "for the foreseeable future." As a result of the decision, CCBA's financial results will be reclassified under Coca-Cola's continuing operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2019. This is a shift from CCBA being accounted for as a discontinued operation since 2017 when Coca-Cola gained control of the business. The beverage giant does not expect the change to affect its organic revenue and comparable EPS growth outlook for the full year. However, it anticipates a $400 million increase in its 2019 guidance for cash from operations and another $400 million increase in capital expenditures.

* LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE said its wine and spirits arm Moët Hennessy will buy French winery Château du Galoupet. Moët Hennessy said it plans to enhance Château du Galoupet's 89 unplanted hectares and add the winery's Cru Classé de Provence to its portfolio, which will become its first rosé wine. Without disclosing the financial terms, LVMH said the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2019.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV-owned supermarket chain Albert Heijn BV will begin a trial at a store in Zandvoort, Netherlands, offering discounts on unsold chicken and fish products in a bid to reduce food waste. The Dutch grocer said prices on chicken and fish products will be automatically reduced according to their sell-by date, with a higher discount for items that need to be sold soonest. Albert Heijn has developed an algorithm that takes into consideration several factors, including location, bonus offers and weather conditions, among others, to determine the best price to get rid of unsold products. The supermarket chain said it aims to reduce half of its food waste by 2030.

* Amazon.com Inc.-owned Whole Foods Market Inc. said it will phase out plastic straws from its U.S., U.K. and Canada stores by July and offer recyclable and compostable paper straws instead. Whole Foods also said it will switch to smaller plastic bags in its produce department this year and replace its hard plastic rotisserie chicken containers with new bags that use about 70% less plastic. The grocer expects these steps to cut down about 800,000 pounds of plastic per year.

BEVERAGES

* Starbucks Corp. opened its first signing store, manned by deaf and hard-of-hearing employees who are fluent in the Chinese Sign Language, in Guangzhou, China. The store, which is the Seattle-based coffee chain's third signing store worldwide, opened its doors May 19. The day is celebrated as the National Day for Helping People with Disabilities in China. The store will also offer sign language lessons and coffee workshops in sign language.

* PepsiCo Inc. launched a "one-stop" digital laboratory for food service operators to help them manage their businesses in the digital age. The PepsiCo Foodservice Digital Lab aims to match the operators with companies, customer insights, insights and solutions that best suit their digital and online needs. PepsiCo also partnered with food industry service providers such as Grubhub Inc. to identify and resolve problems in online order fulfillment and delivery and Mobivity Holdings Corp. for improvements in personalized marketing.

* Diageo PLC is launching a super-premium Italian gin, Villa Ascenti, in 14 European countries. The company has invested €420,000 to build a new distillery in Santa Vittoria to locally produce the gin in Italy's northwest Piemonte region. General Manager of Diageo Reserve Europe Tanya Clarke said the new luxury gin would add to Diageo's existing gin portfolio comprising Gordon's, Tanqueray, Tanqueray No. TEN and Jinzu.

* PepsiCo-owned The Quaker Oats Co. Inc. filed a patent for a process to co-ferment oats and dairy milk for creating a drink containing metabolites, which increase the digestibility and absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Quaker Oats said in the filing that the patented product is unique as the oats and dairy ingredients are fermented together, allowing the bacterial culture to act on both the ingredients during the fermentation process. The company said the move is in line with increasing consumer preferences for purchasing food items that demonstrate improved health effects.

* Majestic Wine PLC confirmed that it is planning to sell its retail business, including its 200 branches in Britain, and added that it has received "a number of expressions of interest" for the same. It added that it is still reviewing these options and there is no certainty that it will proceed with the sale. The wine and spirits retailer is expected to provide further details June 13 as it reports its full-year results.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Swiss fragrance and flavor producer Givaudan SA reached an agreement to acquire Vietnamese flavors producer Golden Frog for an undisclosed amount, to expand and strengthen its naturals segment and presence in Asia-Pacific. Despite the nondisclosure of the terms of the deal, Givaudan expects Golden Frog would comprise about CHF10 million of incremental sales to the company's 2018 results on a pro forma basis. Givaudan plans to fund the transaction using its existing resources and expects to close it by the second half of 2019.

* Saudi Arabia-based food and beverage firm Almarai Co. appointed nine new members of its board of directors, including Saudi Arabian princes Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer and Naif bin Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer. Other appointees to the board include Suliman bin Abdulkader Al Muhaideb, Bader bin Abdullah Al Issa, Anees bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Moumina, Sultan bin Abdulmalek Al- alsheikh, Peter Amon, Saad bin Abdulmohsen AlFadly and Ammar bin Abdulwahid Alkhodairi. The new appointees will serve a three-year term, beginning Aug. 7 and ending Aug. 6, 2022.

* Irish packaged food retailer Greencore Group PLC said it is on track to deliver its strategic and financial objectives in the fiscal second half, as its adjusted EPS for the fiscal first half of 2019 rose 16.4% to 6.4 pence from 5.5 pence in the same period a year ago. For the 26-week period ended March 29, group revenue fell 4.6% year over year to £701.4 million from £734.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA also inched up 0.2% to £62.5 million from £62.4 million. Also, the company named Peter Haden as an executive director and COO, effective May 21.

TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS

* A study published online by JAMA Pediatrics noted that almost half of people that followed Juul Labs Inc. on Twitter were underage, Reuters reported. Among the half, about 45% of followers were 13 to 17 years old, the report said. While only 19% of Juul's followers were at least 21 years old. Data was collected in April 2018 and may not reflect the current scenario on social media, the report added. Juul reportedly said in a statement that it doubts the study's methodology as the data varies "significantly" to what Twitter provided to the company, as its own analysis concluded that underage users made up 3.9% of followers as of May 2018. Recently, the e-cigarette maker was also accused by North Carolina of targeting minors with its products and misrepresented both the potency and dangers of the nicotine in its products in violation of state law.

RESTAURANTS

* The restaurant chains of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver are on the brink of collapse, the BBC and Reuters reported. A filing for administration, which would threaten up to 1,300 jobs, would be handled by KPMG and could come May 21, the reports added.

* Michigan-based pizza chain Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. has teamed up with Impossible Foods Inc. to introduce a plant-based sausage on its new Impossible Supreme pizza. The pizza chain added that the sausages will be made from plants, caramelized onions, mushrooms and green peppers. The new pizza is being sold for $12 plus taxes between 4 pm to 8 pm at three Little Caesars markets in Florida, New Mexico and Washington.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng fell 0.47% at 27,657.24, while the Nikkei 225 shed 0.14% to 21,272.45.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.76% to 7,366.61, and the Euronext 100 lifted 0.59% to 1,050.67.

On the macro front

The Redbook Index for retail sales and the existing home sales report 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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