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Amazon ties up with France's Casino; GSK to review assets for Novartis JV buyout

TOP NEWS

* Amazon.com Inc. teamed up with French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA to offer grocery delivery to Prime Now members in Paris and surrounding areas through Casino's retail chain Monoprix. French newspaper Le Monde reported in October 2017 that the Seattle-based company was mulling expansion in France and reached out to several retailers in the country including E. Leclerc SA and Casino, which rejected Amazon's offer that involved Monoprix.

* Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC said it would initiate a strategic review of malted milk drink Horlicks and its other consumer healthcare nutrition products as it agreed to buy Novartis AG's 36.5% stake in their consumer healthcare joint

venture for $13 billion. The British company said the review would help support funding for the buyout of the consumer health business, which includes brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste and pain reliever Voltaren. The majority of sales of Horlicks and other nutrition products come from India, where they are sold by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd. GSK also will review its 72.5% shareholding in the Indian company.

FOOD RETAIL AND DISTRIBUTION

* Simon Belsham, a Tesco PLC veteran who was integral to the grocer's online efforts, was appointed president of e-tailer Jet.com to succeed Liza Landsman, who left the company to join venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, a former investor in the Walmart Inc. unit. A company spokeswoman confirmed Reuters' report on the appointment and provided a copy of a staff email that Jet.com founder Marc Lore sent emphasizing Belsham's experience in online grocery, which he said is a central part of Jet.com's strategy.

* U.S. retailer Southeastern Grocers LLC, the parent company of U.S. food retailers Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. and BI-LO LLC, said as per its previously announced restructuring agreement, it has started proceedings with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the implementation of the pre-packaged plan of reorganization. The company's CEO, Anthony Hucker, said the company will continue to operate over 580 stores under its various brands.

* Netherlands-based supermarket giant Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV repurchased 1,370,703 of its shares for an average price of €18.56 per share, representing a total consideration of €25.4 million, the company reported. The repurchases, which were made between March 19 and March 23, are part of the retailer's €2 billion share buyback program announced Nov. 8, 2017.

* Australian supermarket chain operator Woolworths Group Ltd. on March 26 recalled 200-gram packs of Macro Chinese Honey Soy Flavored Tofu over an undeclared ingredient. The product contains peanut and is a health risk for people with an allergy or intolerance to peanut. The retailer urged customers to return the purchased items, which had a use-by date of June 12, to Woolworths Supermarket or Metro Store locations for full refunds.

PACKAGED FOODS

* U.S. packaged food and meat producer Campbell Soup Co. said it completed the acquisition of U.S.-based snack maker Snyder's-Lance Inc. in a deal valued at an estimated $6.1 billion. Campbell acquired Snyder's-Lance for $50 per share in cash after receiving approval from Snyder's-Lance's shareholders and will create a new U.S. snacks unit called Campbell Snacks that will integrate the newly acquired business and Pepperidge Farm Inc.

* Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé SA said it will launch in the U.K. and Ireland in the next few weeks a new organic chocolate Milkybar Wowsomes, which has sugar levels 30% lower than other chocolate bars. The company made the bars without any sweeteners, using milk, oats and structured sugar.

* Swiss flavors and fragrances producer Givaudan SA said it signed an agreement to acquire 40.6% of the shares in Naturex, a French company specializing in producing natural specialty ingredients for the food, health and cosmetic industries, for €135 per share, or a total consideration of €522 million. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is part of Givaudan's 2020 strategy to strengthen its capabilities in natural flavors.

* Japanese food company Ajinomoto Co. Inc. plans to create awareness about the safe consumption of its monosodium glutamate, or MSG, seasoning product aji-no-moto in India through social and digital media, The Economic Times (India) reported, citing the company's India Marketing Manager Govind Biswas.

RESTAURANTS

* U.S. restaurants chain McDonald's Corp. created a council called the Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council that will allow it to meet its chicken welfare and sustainability goals, the Nation's Restaurant News reported. The council, which consists of experts including important suppliers, experts in genetics, sustainability advisers and university academics, will recommend the company on how to source chickens raised humanely while ensuring suppliers meet demand with sustainable practices, the report said.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.79% to 30,790.83, while the Nikkei 225 climbed 2.65% to 21,317.32.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 1.93% to 7,021.46 and the Euronext 100 rose 1.33% to 1,004.44.

On the macro front

The Redbook, the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, the consumer confidence report, the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index and the State Street Investor Confidence Index are due out today.

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