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Walmart investors told to reject pay plan; Starbucks China overhauls management

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Walmart investors told to reject pay plan; Starbucks China overhauls management

TOP NEWS

* Two shareholder proxy advisory firms are urging Walmart Inc. investors to reject the company's executive remuneration packages and support a proposal seeking a strengthened boardroom structure that will address workplace sexual harassment, the Financial Times (London) reported. Glass Lewis & Co. LLC reportedly is recommending that shareholders vote against Walmart's proposed remuneration plans for its senior executives. Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. advised investors to vote for a motion that will call for better board oversight at the retailer to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace. ISS declined S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment, while Glass Lewis did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Walmart also declined to provide comment on the report but reiterated that it will respond to shareholder proposals once they are formally presented at the annual meeting.

* Starbucks Corp. said it will restructure its management in China to create two divisions, retail and digital innovation, Sina Finance reported. The restructuring, effective June 1, will see Starbucks China CEO Belinda Wong elevated to the chairperson role while retaining her current position as CEO. COO Leo Tsoi will take on an additional role as president of the retail unit. Molly Liu, vice president of digital ventures, will be promoted to general manager of the digital innovation unit.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA CEO Jean-Charles Naouri is likely to seek help from private equity funds or Amazon.com Inc. to raise capital for the troubled French retailer, Bloomberg News reported, citing Bryan Garnier & Co. analyst Clement Genelot. Naouri may be looking for a financial or industrial partner to help partially repay the company's debt and to allow him to keep majority control of the business, Genelot wrote in a note.

* Metro AG expects at least eight parties to make second-round bids for its Chinese operations, Reuters reported, citing people directly involved in the matter. Two of the sources reportedly said the German supermarket operator has asked the shortlist of bidders to submit their offers by June 10 and that the process is expected to conclude in September. In an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Metro said discussions with potential partners are "progressing very well," and it will narrow its list of bidders for further talks. However, the company declined to provide further details.

* Delhaize Belgium, a business unit of Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV said it is rolling out a sustainability program called Lion's Footprint. Under the program, Delhaize plans to ban single-use plastic products from all its stores by 2020, continue to reduce its food waste and achieve carbon neutrality by 2021. In addition, the food retailer said it will review and optimize its supply chain by promoting new technologies, such as using more double-deck trucks and testing electric bikes for deliveries.

* Russian food retailer PJSC Magnit said it decided to divide the retail operations into two business units — retail chain and real estate and noncore procurement — as a part of its transformation strategy. Ruslan Ismailov has been named retail chain management, effective May 27. Meanwhile, the company will announce the director for real estate and noncore procurement in due time. Magnit also said COO Artem Smolensky has stepped down with immediate effect due to personal reasons.

BEVERAGES

* Liquor-maker Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd.'s former e-commerce chief, Nie Yong, has been arrested on suspicion of corruption, Caixin reported. The arrest follows the prosecution of the Chinese company's former chairman, Yuan Renguo, by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for accepting "exceptionally large" bribes and running an illegal for-profit business.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

* Dutch aqua-feed producer Nutreco NV is in advanced talks to acquire CJ Cheiljedang Corp. animal feed assets for about 2 trillion South Korean won, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. CJ Cheiljedang operates about 32 feed mills in Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, China, Cambodia and Myanmar. The potential deal will likely include CJ's feed mills in China and Southeast Asia, with an agreement expected to be reached this year, the sources reportedly said. However, the discussions are ongoing and may not result in a deal, the report said. A spokesman for CJ told Bloomberg that the company has not decided to sell its feed business.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Australian packaged food producer Beston Global Food Co. Ltd. said it terminated talks to merge its online marketplace unit, Beston Technologies Pty. Ltd., with anti-theft and anti-counterfeit company DataDot Technology Ltd. The decision came after recent corporate changes at DataDot. Beston said it agreed with the new management of DataDot to enter into negotiations in relation to commercial arrangements between DataDot and Beston in the future.

RESTAURANTS

* McDonald's Corp.'s China unit has linked its loyalty program with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Ele.me on-demand delivery platform, enabling users to activate a fast food giant's membership card through the app.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Agriculture will not be part of near-term trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU for a deal on lifting tariffs, the bloc's trade chief insisted, rejecting a key demand from Washington. "There is absolutely no possibility to include agriculture in these discussions," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told a press conference. She said the agriculture aspect could be brought up as part of talks in the future, "but that moment is not now."

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng gained 0.38% at 27,390.81, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.37% to 21,260.14.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 lifted 0.02% to 7,279.21, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.34% to 1,038.08.

On the macro front

The S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller home price index, the Federal Housing Finance Agency house price index, the consumer confidence report and the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey 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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