* Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a $4.4 billion bid to keep the struggling department store chain in business, according to an SEC filing, confirming earlier reports that Lampert made a last-minute offer to avert liquidation. Lampert submitted his bid through Transform Holdco LLC, a newly formed affiliate of his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc. ESL also disclosed its plans to make a bid of approximately $1.8 billion for some of Sears' real estate assets, in case its buyout offer fails.
* Blake Nordstrom, co-president and director of Nordstrom Inc., died at the age of 58 after battling lymphoma, the U.S. department store chain confirmed in a filing to the SEC. Blake Nordstrom previously disclosed his illness in a letter addressed to employees, customers and shareholders of Nordstrom.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* PUMA SE signed a multiyear sponsorship agreement with Porsche Motorsport, allowing the German apparel producer and its Branded Sports Merchandising subsidiary to develop, market and sell products aimed at fans of Porsche Automobil Holding SE's racing business. The retailer also will provide fireproof racing clothing to Porsche Motorsports' factory teams and pit crews for all Formula E and GT racing activities.
* Next PLC said it now expects profit before tax for full year 2017-18 of £723 million, down 0.6% from the £727 million guidance it provided in September 2018. The retailer's earnings were hit by higher sales on seasonal products and increased operational costs associated with higher online sales. In midday trading in London, Next's shares were up 6.06% to £44.3.
* Department store chain John Lewis Partnership PLC reported a growth in sales for the last two weeks of 2018, driven by very strong sales on Christmas Eve and last minute shopping in preparation for the holiday period. The U.K.-based retailer posted a 4.2% year-over-year increase in sales for its 47th trading week in 2018, while sales for the last trading week of the year were up 4.5% from a year earlier.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Skin care products maker DERMAdoctor LLC dropped its plans to go public due to "rocky" market conditions, after reducing its targeted IPO proceeds in September to $10.7 million from $13.2 million, CEO Jeff Kunin told the Kansas City Business Journal. The company filed for an IPO with the SEC in May 2018 to accelerate its growth plans.
* Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. completed the sale of its battery and lighting business unit to Energizer Holdings Inc. in a $2 billion deal, announced in January 2018, after receiving all necessary approvals in December 2018.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Iceland Foods Ltd. plans to contest the decision of U.K.'s HM Revenue & Customs to impose a fine of £21 million on the British food retailer for not abiding by the country's minimum wage law, the Financial Times reported. The company reportedly introduced a Christmas savings scheme that allows employees to save money from their wages to help meet expenses during the holidays, resulting in employees being paid less than the minimum wage. An Iceland Foods spokesman told the newspaper that the initiative, called the Christmas Club, was "entirely voluntary" and that it repaid more than £3.7 million to employees from the scheme, which was overseen by an independent trustee company.
* British food retailer Co-operative Group Ltd. will open 100 new stores and will revamp 200 stores in 2019 as part of its £200 million store investment program, which is expected to create 1,500 local jobs.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Costco Wholesale Corp. plans to expand in Australia by opening two more stores in Brisbane and Perth, as well as rolling out an online store in the country by 2020, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
* India's Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt Ltd, an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed online grocer better known as BigBasket, reported that revenue increased 16.06 billion Indian rupees during the financial year 2017-18, The Economic Times reported.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* The Indian unit of South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. reported a 14% rise in net profit for 2017-18 to 14.54 billion Indian rupees, while revenue from operations came in at 160.59 billion rupees, The Economic Times reported.
CASINOS AND GAMING
* VICI Properties Inc. and Penn National Gaming Inc. completed their respective deals pertaining to the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, La. Experiential real estate investment trust VICI acquired the land and real estate assets of the resort casino for approximately $261 million in cash, while casino operator Penn bought the operating assets for approximately $115 million in cash.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.26% to 25,064.36.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.61% to 6,693.36, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.03% to 900.95.
On the macro front
The motor vehicle sales report, the MBA Mortgage applications report, the ADP employment report, the jobless claims report, the ISM manufacturing index, the construction spending report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply 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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