* U.K. grocer Tesco PLC is preparing for a no-deal Brexit by discussing contingency plans with its suppliers and possibly stockpiling dry goods, The Guardian reported, citing Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. The executive said the "biggest single challenge" of a no-deal Brexit for supermarkets would be ensuring an uninterrupted supply of fresh food, the report added. Lewis reportedly said the grocer would take action after Christmas.
* U.S. soft drinks giant Coca-Cola Co. and its independent Australian bottler Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. jointly acquired a 45% minority stake in Australian beverage company Made Group for an undisclosed amount. According to a release, Made Group will continue operating independently, with support from both Coca-Cola Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil in terms of market reach and distribution.
* Activist investor Legion Partners Asset Management LLC is urging Papa John's International Inc. to focus on the pizza-selling business and get "away from the business of dealing with controversy," specifically its feud with founder John Schnatter, The Wall Street Journal reported. Legion Partners and California State Teachers' Retirement System jointly have a 5.5% stake in the pizza chain. Citing an unnamed source, the report added that the activist investor has been in talks with the company in recent weeks about appointing board members with restaurant experience.
* Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is looking for a new head of food safety to replace James Marsden in the position, Bloomberg News reported, citing an emailed company statement. Marsden is planning to retire from the restaurant chain in the second quarter of 2019, the report said. A company spokeswoman did not immediately respond to Bloomberg's request for additional comments on the matter.
* Australian restaurants operator Collins Foods Ltd. said it has entered into an agreement with YUM! Brands Inc.-owned Taco Bell to open more than 50 new Taco Bell outlets in Australia by 2021. Under the development agreement, Collins Foods will open the restaurants between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2021, in three Australian states, including Queensland. The deal also gives the Australian company the right of first offer in relation to the outlets.
* Japanese snack food maker Calbee Inc., through its unit Calbee (UK) Ltd., has acquired British potato chip brand Seabrook Crisps Ltd. from U.K. private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital for an undisclosed amount. Calbee added that the acquisition would strengthen its overseas expansion.
* Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut AG inked an agreement to buy Russian chocolate producer Inforum Prom Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. The deal, which will enable Barry Callebaut to significantly expand its presence and manufacturing capacity in Russia, is subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions and is expected to close by the year-end.
* Thai Beverage Public Company Ltd. said it has gained control of the management board of Vietnam's Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp., or Sabeco, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. ThaiBev acquired a 53.58% stake in Sabeco in December 2017 but failed to gain control of the management board. Sabeco General Director Bennett Neo, who was appointed in August by ThaiBev, reportedly said his team is ready to work on reforms that will help the company boost its productivity and make faster investment decisions.
* Japanese conglomerate Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd.'s Lion beer company is axing jobs at both its Queensland and South Australian breweries following a decline in beer sales and rising freight costs, The Australian Financial Review reported. The brewer, which is in the middle of reviewing its options for its drinks and dairy unit, reportedly said about 25 workers will lose jobs at its Milton brewery in Brisbane, and 36 positions will be cut at its West End brewery in Adelaide.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng fell 1.73% to 26,623.87, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.56% to 23,975.62.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.86% to 7,445.42, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.97% to 1,053.45.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the factory orders report, the EIA natural gas report, the Treasury STRIPS 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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