* Brookfield Property Partners LP reached a deal to buy regional mall landlord GGP Inc., creating a combined company with an ownership interest in about $90 billion in total assets and annual net operating income of more than $4 billion. The transaction, expected to close early in the 2018 third quarter, subject to approval by the companies' shareholders, confirms a report that the Bermuda-based real estate company submitted a new bid after GGP rejected its $14.8 billion offer.
* Days after GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC dropped their bid to acquire Pfizer Inc.'s $20 billion consumer healthcare unit, the drugmaker agreed to buy out Novartis AG from the companies' consumer health joint venture for $13 billion in cash. The venture was formed in 2015 as part of a strategic restructuring by Novartis, which holds the right to require GSK to buy its stake in the JV. The transaction is subject to approval from GSK's shareholders.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Fashion retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB reported a drop in fiscal first-quarter sales and profit due to bad weather and higher markdowns but hinted that its turnaround strategy was showing positive results. The Swedish company said the launch of H&M and H&M Home on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s e-commerce marketplace Tmall in China "exceeded our high expectations," and that the debut of its online store in India "got off to a very good start." For the three months ended Feb. 28, H&M reported that earnings per share fell to 83 Swedish ?öre from 1.48 kroner in the year-ago period, beating the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate for normalized EPS of 66 ?öre.
* Superdry PLC co-founder Julian Dunkerton will resign as director from the British clothing company, effective March 31.
* Fashion retailer Genus UK, operating as Select in 183 outlets, plans to close underperforming stores and negotiate rents as part of its restructuring plan resulting from a challenging retail environment, putting 2,000 jobs at risk, The Irish Independent reported. The high-street fashion chain, which engaged recovery firm Quantuma as adviser for the plan, gave landlords an option to "take back loss-making sites" and will meet with creditors April 13 to vote on its proposal.
* Sears Holdings Corp. chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert told Vanity Fair that his decision to merge the department store operator with Illinois-based rival Kmart was based on the belief that Kmart's chances of being successful was only possible with Sears. Lampert, who also established hedge fund ESL Investments, reportedly also said Sears and Kmart stores were complementary enough to Walmart Inc. that the merged company did not need to compete with the big-box retailer.
* House of Fraser will receive about £15 million in capital from Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group Co. Ltd., which owns 89% of the struggling department store operator, after reports surfaced that the company held refinancing talks with Alteri Investors, The Guardian reported. The British chain, which has a £224 million debt maturing July 2019, reportedly said it only agreed to a meeting at the request of the Apollo Global Management LLC private equity firm.
* Jill McDonald, managing director for Marks and Marks & Spencer Group PLC clothing and home division, appointed new members of its leadership team as part of the department store chain's ongoing strategic transformation "to attract more families."
* 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.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Avon Products Inc. agreed to nominate Barington Capital Group LP CEO James Mitarotonda to its board after facing pressure from a group of activist investors led by the hedge fund manager requesting that the beauty products manufacturer explore strategic options, including a sale. Also as part of the agreement, Barington, along with investment firms Shah Capital Management Inc. and NuOrion Partners, will vote all of their shares in favor of the board-nominated directors and will stop running the proxy contest.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Simon Belsham, a Tesco PLC veteran who was integral to the grocer's online efforts, was appointed president of e-tailer Jet.com, following the exit of Liza Landsman, who left 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.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Lowe's Cos. Inc. CEO, Chairman and President Robert Niblock will retire from the home improvement chain but will remain in the role until the company's board finds a successor. A Lowe's spokeswoman told S&P Global Market Intelligence that Niblock has decided "the time was right to transition the company to its next generation of leadership."
* Toys R Us Inc. will face "an extremely big undertaking" as it proceeds with the liquidation of the company's 735 stores across the U.S. as part of the troubled retailer's bankruptcy proceedings, Chuck Tatelbaum from law firm Tripp Scott told MarketWatch. Tatelbaum reportedly said Toys R Us will struggle to retain experienced employees with the lack of planning before filing for bankruptcy despite offering deep discounts for its products.
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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