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Shareholder urges Sears to go private; Alibaba's Lazada partners with Apple


* Sears Holdings Corp. was urged by a major shareholder to examine the option of going private and to form a committee to address an apparent trend of short interest in its shares. Elarof Trust, which owns 2 million of Sears' shares, added in a letter through its investor manager, Switzerland-based Memento SA, that the department store chain's lack of available stock in the market may pull down share value and asked that it suspend short-selling activity to allow for a probe by the SEC.

* E-commerce company Lazada Group SA accepted Apple Inc.'s offer to resell the U.S. technology giant's products, such as iPhones, MacBooks, iPads and Apple TVs, on its online portal. The Singapore-based company, which is majority held by China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., rolled out Apple's products in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore on Dec. 8, and will start selling in Malaysia and Vietnam on Dec. 11.


* Apparel retailers Sports Direct and Primark Stores Ltd. were among 260 employers hit with fines totaling of £1.3 million by the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for paying workers less than the minimum wage. The agency found that the companies owed employees a total of £1.7 million in wages and reminded them that rates of pay would increase again in April 2018.

* Tapestry Inc., formerly Coach Inc., appointed Doreen Toben, former board member of its apparel unit Kate Spade & Co., and Anne Gates, newly retired president of toy manufacturer MGA Entertainment Inc., to its board of directors. The appointments bring the New York-based luxury fashion company's board to 10 members.


* Chinese online retailer Inc. partnered with Silicon Valley-based startup and venture accelerator Plug and Play to develop new retail technologies and improve its systems. The e-commerce company will also feature products of the participants on its online portal.


* Tesco Plc's former executives, John Scouler and Chris Bush, declined to testify in court after being charged by the Serious Fraud Office in connection with the British supermarket operator's overstatement of 2014 profit, the Financial Times reported. The trio, including Carl Rogberg, denied all allegations in the £250 million accounting fraud in a trial at Southwark Crown Court, the report added.

* Dutch supermarket operator Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV created Ahold Delhaize USA, the new parent for its U.S. companies, and appointed Ahold USA COO Kevin Holt as its CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The move will see brands Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant, Hannaford, Giant/Martin's, Peapod and Retail Business Service as part of the new division.

* ALDI Inc. recalled its Choceur dark chocolate bars after an employee found almond pieces that were not mentioned on the packaging. The grocery retailer removed the product from its stores and requested customers who purchased the products, which was available in 27 states and online through its grocery delivery partner Instacart, to return them for a full refund.

* U.S. organic supplement retailer Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. appointed Todd Dissinger as CFO, replacing Sandra Buffa, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Dissinger was previously the vice president and treasurer of the distributor's subsidiary, Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets Inc.


* Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and New Jersey-based e-commerce company, Inc. partnered with BuzzFeed Inc. to market and sell products on the media content company's recipe app, Tasty. The big-box retailer added that it will also integrate items from Wal-Mart's online market and other services as part of the collaboration.

* Wal-Mart de México SAB de CV, Mexican arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will install Wi-Fi in all its stores, except warehouse-style Bodega Aurrera Express, by mid-2018 to promote and improve its e-commerce business, Reuters reported, citing the company. The news agency said the move will allow Walmex to collect user data and use it to customize offerings.


* Sharp Corp.'s president and CEO Tai Jeng-wu plans to hire a co-CEO following the Japanese electronics retailer's recent return to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Tai, who came from Sharp's Taiwanese parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., previously planned to retire after the company was reinstated to the top tier but now plans to step down in 2020.

* Sharp Corp., with the help of Japanese government, plans to form a "Japan alliance" with rival Japan Display Inc. to better compete with South Korean players Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG Display Co. Ltd. in the flat-panel TV space, Reuters reported, citing a statement by president and CEO Tai Jeng-wu. The electronics companies reportedly plan to collaborate in producing OLED screens in 2018 or later.

* Lego Group, the Danish maker of play materials based on its iconic Lego bricks, won its case filed with the China Shantou Intermediate People's Court against BELA and another unnamed company for allegedly manufacturing and selling items nearly identical to its products. The court ruled that the Chinese toy manufacturers must stop copying Lego's packaging and logos, effective November.

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