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Consortium to end Yum China pursuit; Mondelez stockpiles items ahead of Brexit

TOP NEWS

*A consortium of investors that includes private equity firms Hillhouse Capital Advisors Ltd. and KKR & Co. is set to end its efforts to acquire restaurant operator Yum China Holdings Inc., Bloomberg News reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The consortium determined that deteriorating business conditions for the YUM! Brands Inc. spinoff, in addition to the threat of a trade war between the U.S. and China, would complicate further discussions or a potential deal. Representatives for both the consortium and Yum China declined to comment to Bloomberg about the matter.

* Mondelez International Inc. European division President Hubert Weber said the company is stockpiling ingredients, finished confectionery and biscuits in case Mondelez would be affected by a no-deal Brexit, The Times reported. Weber added that the company, which owns Cadbury and Oreo, has a contingency plan to manage a hard Brexit because "the U.K. is not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients."

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Canadian food retailer Loblaw Cos. Ltd. will appeal a ruling by the Tax Court of Canada in relation to allegations that the company made its former banking subsidiary, Barbados-based Glenhuron Bank Ltd., appear to be a foreign bank to avoid paying taxes. Loblaw President Sarah Davis said: "We are pleased with the court's finding that Loblaw did not take any steps to avoid Canadian tax. This confirms what we have said all along: Glenhuron was established for legitimate business purposes." However, Davis said they are "disappointed" with the court's interpretation of a technical provision in the legislation and that they plan to contest the ruling. Loblaw said that if the appeal is unsuccessful, it expects to pay tax and interest of approximately C$368 million.

* Australian retail conglomerate Woolworths Group Ltd. has been hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming that the supermarket giant breached its continuous disclosure obligations when it reaffirmed its profit guidance for full year 2015, resulting in "misleading or deceptive conduct." Law firm Maurice Blackburn said it filed the lawsuit in the Australian federal court on behalf of investors who suffered losses after Woolworths cut its profit outlook when it "learned it was using the wrong price and stock metrics." Meanwhile, the retailer said in a statement posted on its website: "Woolworths will consider any proceedings once served, but otherwise anticipates that they will be thoroughly defended."

PACKAGED FOODS

* Nestlé SA's Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. said it is eyeing a foray into Europe, the Financial Times reported, citing Marco Settembri, CEO for Europe, Middle East and North Africa. Settembri's comment followed Starbucks Corp.'s debut in Italy. Nestlé acquired the global rights to market the Starbucks' packaged products through retailers worldwide. Settembri also dispelled rumors that Nestlé will launch a Nespresso coffee chain in Europe, but the chief executive added that rolling out Blue Bottle in the region could work.

* PepsiCo Inc. joined the NaturALL Bottle Alliance, a research consortium formed by packaged food company Danone, Nestlé-owned Nestlé Waters, and research and development company Origin Materials, to help develop 100% renewable and sustainable packaging solutions. The alliance aims to develop PET plastic bottles using biodegradable materials such as used cardboard and sawdust in order to reduce waste, according to a Nestlé release.

BEVERAGES

* Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd. said it is placing its Lion Dairy & Drinks brands under strategic review to explore options for the business, including a sale. The unit produces and distributes dairy products and beverages in Oceania. The company and its subsidiary Lion Pty. Ltd., which manages the company's Oceania integrated beverage business, will also consider retaining and investing in the dairy and beverage brand. In Kirin's half-year results, Lion Dairy & Drinks reported lower revenue and profits, which the company attributed to sales declines in the ambient and chilled juice categories and the effect of the container deposit system in New South Wales, Australia.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Australia cut its wheat forecast by about 13% amid a crippling drought in the east coast, Reuters reported, citing the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. Wheat production during the 2018-19 season will total 19.1 million tonnes, according to the bureau's figures. The Australian bureau added that production across the country's east coast will total 5.7 million tonnes, the second consecutive season of below average output.

* China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs confirmed another case of African swine fever in the city of Tongling city, located in the eastern province of Anhui, making it the 14th case since the outbreak was first reported on Aug. 3, Reuters reported. The recent outbreak reportedly killed 23 hogs and infected 63 others.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng dropped 0.72% to 26,422.55, while the Nikkei 225 rose 1.30% to 22,664.69.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.63% to 7,233.61, and the Euronext 100 shed 0.27% to 1,030.63.

On the macro front

The Redbook Index for retail sales and the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey are due out today. The National Federation of Independent Business' index of small business optimism increased to 108.8 in August from 107.9 in July.

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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