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Report: Amazon to expand US healthcare offering; Danone to slash stake in Yakult

TOP NEWS

* Amazon.com Inc. is attempting to become a major supplier to healthcare centers in the U.S. by expanding its medical supplies offering in Amazon Business, the company's business-to-business sales arm, unnamed hospital executives who met with Amazon reportedly told The Wall Street Journal. Employees of the U.S. e-commerce giant also visited a large hospital system in the Midwest region of the U.S., the Journal reported, citing a hospital official involved in the visit. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* French dairy products company Danone will reduce its 21.29% stake in Japanese probiotics maker Yakult Honsha Co. Ltd. to about 7% through an equity sale and a ¥36 billion share repurchase program launched by Yakult. Danone also will study the feasibility of new collaboration projects such as the distribution of Yakult's products in European markets where the brand currently is not engaged in substantial business, beginning with an initial pilot in Spain.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, in a statement ahead of its capital markets day, said it began 2018 with high opening stock levels and imbalances in the product range, leading to high markdowns that had a "negative effect" on earnings. However, the Stockholm-based fashion retailer indicated that it expected to mitigate the impact with 25%-plus year-over-year increases in 2018 in online sales and in sales from new business, plus 4% from sales of newly opened stores.

* British luxury fashion e-tailer Farfetch will soon start the process of choosing bankers to underwrite its New York IPO, aiming for a valuation of up to $5 billion, CNBC reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Farfetch CEO José Neves said of a potential listing: "We have no plans. There is no timing." He also declined to comment on reports about the London-based startup looking to hire banks for an IPO.

* Under Armour Inc. expects a low single-digit percentage increase in net revenue for its 2018 fiscal year, as the sportswear company's international growth is set to soar by more than 25%. Sales in North America are expected to show a mid-single-digit decline for fiscal 2018.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* U.S. department store operator J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will wind down operations at one of its distribution facilities in Wauwatosa, Wis., in the summer of 2018, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported. A company spokesman confirmed the move to CNBC and reportedly said J.C. Penney's supply chain network in that area is "oversized" compared with its other sites in the country. The warehouse's operations reportedly will be shifted to J.C. Penney's facilities in Kansas and Ohio, while the 670 redundancies will receive severance and other benefits.

* Myer Holdings Ltd. CEO and Managing Director Richard Umbers stepped down from his role a week after the company's largest shareholder, apparel retailer Premier Investments Ltd., announced plans to push the company's shareholders for a new board of directors. The department store operator appointed Chairman Garry Hounsell as executive chairman with immediate effect as it looks for a new CEO and managing director.

E-COMMERCE

* JD.com Inc. raised approximately $2.5 billion for its JD Logistics unit in a financing round with investors including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. as the Chinese online retailer aims to enhance its smart supply chain network. JD will have an 81.4% stake to remain the majority shareholder of its logistics subsidiary, which reportedly may be listed separately from the main company in the future.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* PepsiCo Inc. intends to shed workers at the corporate level by an amount less than 1% of its 110,000 employee base as beverage sales in North America for the soft drinks heavyweight dipped 3% year over year, Business Insider reported. The Purchase, N.Y.-based beverage manufacturer said that the division's organic sales, which accounted for roughly one-third of PepsiCo's revenue at $20.94 billion, was the worst among its six major divisions and below the 2% increase for the entire company.

* Productivity at Blue Apron Inc.'s Linden, N.J., processing facility was "now relatively in line with our fulfillment centers in California and Texas," President, CEO and Director Bradley Dickerson said during a conference call. That improvement means the meal-kit maker can shift its focus from improving its new facility to expanding its customer base through marketing, according to founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilia Papas.

* Food manufacturer Nestlé SA partnered with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-operated Cainiao Network to create "One Inventory," a supply management solution that integrates the Swiss company's warehouse stock in China across Alibaba's platforms.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Walmart Inc. is cutting management positions at some of its U.S. stores, including the managers who oversee cellphone departments and online grocery pickup areas, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the plans. A spokesman for the big-box retailer said the company is in the process of adjusting various employee roles by creating some new jobs and consolidating others but did not tell the Journal how many positions would be eliminated.

* South Africa's Competition Tribunal dismissed a complaint filed by Walmart Inc.'s South African unit, Massmart Holdings Ltd., against retailers and landlords for allegedly entering into exclusivity agreements that impact its Game stores. Massmart first lodged the complaint with the tribunal in June 2015. According to a report by Reuters, Massmart spokeswoman Annaleigh Vallie said in an emailed response to questions that the retailer is disappointed with the tribunal's decision.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* U.K. home improvement retailer Kingfisher Plc is laying off around 409 employees at its Castorama and Brico Depot units in France along with creating 102 jobs and transferring 164 positions, Reuters reported, citing a company announcement. The report said the move is part of Kingfisher's global plan to improve profit by £500 million each year from 2021 but is expected to cost the company about £800 million over five years to deliver.

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