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Uber may sell Uber Eats India; IFF to merge with DuPont's nutrition unit

TOP NEWS

* Uber Technologies Inc. is in talks to sell the Indian operations of its Uber Eats food delivery business to local competitor Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd., The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. A deal is likely to be announced as early as the week of Dec. 16, the sources told the Journal. Uber and Zomato reportedly said they do not comment on speculation. According to a separate TechCrunch report, a source said Uber Eats' India business is valued at around $400 million.

* Specialty chemicals company DuPont de Nemours Inc. agreed to merge its nutrition and biosciences business with International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., or IFF, in a Reverse Morris Trust tax-free transaction to create an entity valued at $45.4 billion. Under the terms of the deal, DuPont shareholders will own a 55.4% stake of the merged company, while IFF shareholders will own 44.6%. Additionally, DuPont is entitled to a one-time $7.3 billion special cash payment. The transaction, subject to conditions, is expected to close by the first quarter of 2021.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd. said net sales of its overseas unit, 7-Eleven Inc., increased 0.7% in November. The Japanese company's general merchandising arm, Ito-Yokado, saw a 3.5% decline in total sales during the month. Supermarket chain York-Benimaru's total sales grew 2.6%, while department store chain Sogo & Seibu's total sales fell 5.6%. Seven & i Food Systems Co. Ltd., which operates restaurant chain Denny's in Japan, saw its total sales fall 2.4% from the year-ago period.

* India's Future Group plans to roll out the first 7-Eleven convenience store in the country before March 2020, following the conglomerate's deal with Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd. in February, NewsRise reported, citing Future Group founder Kishore Biyani. Future Group is looking to open 1,000 small-format stores in Mumbai, where 7-Eleven operations will be concentrated for at least the next two or three years, Biyani reportedly told the news outlet.

* Australian food retailer Woolworths Group Ltd. said its shareholders agreed to merge its beverage and hospitality units, Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group Pty. Ltd. The combined entity will be spun off and called Endeavour Group.

* Japanese convenience store chain Lawson Inc. entered into a mobile payment partnership with cellphone service provider KDDI, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Under the agreement, KDDI will buy a 20% stake in Loyalty Marketing, which operates Lawson's Ponta loyalty program. KDDI also will acquire a 2% stake, amounting to ¥12 billion, in Lawson.

* Brazilian ready-to-eat meals delivery app iFood.com Agência de Restaurantes Online SA, which focuses its operations in large cities, is eyeing expansion to other areas, as well as ramping up its operations in retail, Reuters reported, citing CFO Diego Barreto. The delivery service provider, majority-owned by Naspers Ltd.'s Movile Internet Móvel SA, reportedly is looking to increase the number of supermarkets it serves to 1,000 from 200.

BEVERAGES

* Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd.'s corporate venture platform, Amatil X, partnered with Artesian Venture Partners on a multimillion-dollar fund for startups, dubbed Amatil X Early Stage Venture Fund.

* Japan's Suntory Holdings Ltd. is set to roll out a whisky brand, dubbed Oaksmith, exclusively in India, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Oaksmith will initially be distributed in the city of Pune in the week of Dec. 16.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Argentine soy crushing company Vicentin ceased operations at its three main plants amid debt restructuring talks, as the company struggles after defaulting earlier in December, Reuters reported, citing two industry sources with direct knowledge of the situation. A Vicentin spokesman reportedly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* China suspended the additional 10% and 5% tariffs on some U.S. imports originally due to take effect on Dec. 15, after the two countries agreed to the text of a phase-one deal to slow their trade war. The Chinese Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said extra tariffs on U.S. auto parts and vehicles will also remain suspended, but other duties already imposed on U.S. imports will continue, except for the products on the exemption list.

* Retail and food sales in the U.S. grew less than expected on a monthly basis in November, advance data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed. Seasonally and calendar-adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales ticked up 0.2% to $527.99 billion in November from an upwardly revised $526.99 billion in October, versus the consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday for 0.5% growth in sales.

* Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's agriculture safety regulator, said it will lift temporary restrictions on poultry supplies to Russia from a Brazilian plant operated by Cooperativa Agroindustrial Lar. on Dec. 16, Reuters reported, citing the watchdog's statement.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.65% to 27,508.09, and the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.29% to 23,952.35.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 2.19% to 7,514.52, and the Euronext 100 rose 1.00% to 1,143.74.

On the macro front

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the Housing Market Index and the Treasury International Capital 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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