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Hindustan Unilever posts Q2'20 profit beat; Metro to sell China unit to Wumei


* Hindustan Unilever Ltd. reported earnings that grew by double digits and beat analysts' expectations for the fiscal second quarter of 2020. For the three months to Sept. 30, the household products manufacturer said after-tax profit jumped 21% year over year to 18.48 billion Indian rupees from 15.25 billion rupees, above S&P Global Market Intelligence's consensus GAAP net income estimate of 18.07 billion rupees.

* German food retailer Metro AG agreed to sell its entire stake in Metro China to Wumei Technology Group Co. Ltd. for an implied enterprise value of €1.9 billion. Metro will receive about €1 billion in net proceeds and will take a 20% stake in a resulting joint venture with the Chinese retailer.


* Sam Ben-Avraham, the founder of the Kith streetwear brand who was leading a group of fashion veterans to bid for Barneys New York Inc., is set to separately bid for the retailer, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Gary Wassner, CEO of fashion-focused financial services firm Hilldun, is also expected to make an offer, the report said. Wassner declined to comment.

* Nike Inc. will end its supply agreements with independent retailers by 2021 as it seeks to sell more through direct-to-consumer channels, The Sunday Times reported, citing a letter from the company.

* Nike is closing its Oregon Project, an athletics training program, following the imposition of a four-year ban by U.S. anti-doping agency Usada on its head coach Alberto Salazar and physician Jeffrey Brown for conducting experiments that violated doping rules, the Financial Times reported, citing a note from CEO Mark Parker. "This situation, along with ongoing unsubstantiated assertions is a distraction for many of the athletes and is compromising their ability to focus on their training and competition needs. I have therefore made the decision to wind down the Oregon project," Parker said in an internal memo.

* Superdry PLC said Julian Dunkerton, who was named interim CEO on April 2, will be permanent CEO of the British apparel retailer with a contract running until April 2021.


* Steinhoff International Holdings NV unit Poundland Group Ltd. launched Pep&Co shop-in-shops in five U.K. stores in Christchurch, Minehead, Margate, Swansea and Newport, Retail Gazette reported.


* Inc. plans to open a new fulfillment center in Channahon, Ill., that will create more than 500 full-time jobs.

* The Japanese government is set to invite executives from Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to hearings to inquire about their collection and use of personal information of their customers, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The move is aimed at addressing the impact of the growth of e-commerce retailers on domestic businesses and the risks associated with the user data held by the companies.


* The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.'s MAC Cosmetics unit appointed Drew Elliott as senior vice president and global creative director, effective Oct. 28.


* Walmart Inc. is planning to spin off Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd.'s payment system unit PhonePe Private Ltd. in a move to take direct ownership of the business, The Economic Times (India) reported. The retail giant would reportedly own about 82% in both PhonePe and Flipkart after the completion of the spinoff, with a combined valuation of between $27 billion and $30 billion.


* Laura Ashley Holdings PLC appointed Sagar Mavani as CFO. The fashion retailer also said Seán Anglim resigned as executive director, finance director and joint COO of the company.


* Rocco Forte Hotels Ltd. plans to expand its portfolio to about 30 properties from 14 properties in the next three to five years, with most of the new sites in Italy, the Financial Times reported, citing an interview with owner Rocco Forte.

* Thomas Cook Group PLC, which fell into liquidation in September, received a non-binding offer for its Nordic operations from an undisclosed party, Reuters reported, citing a company spokesman. "The bid that has been placed is for the whole Nordic operations, which is Thomas Cook Northern Europe plus the Nordic airline," said, Fredrik Henriksson, head of communications at Thomas Cook Northern Europe/Ving.


* Fitch Ratings affirmed the long-term issuer default ratings of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and its subsidiaries at BBB- with a positive outlook.


* New Zealand-based childcare and educations services provider Evolve Education Group Ltd. acquired a childcare center in Melbourne from Sovana Childcare Pty Ltd. ATF Sovana Childcare Trust for $2.45 million.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng advanced 0.81% to 26,521.85.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.54% to 7,208.26, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.79% to 1,085.52.

On the macro front

No notable reports 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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