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Just Eat rebuffs £4.9B Prosus bid; Walmart CEO seeks business stability in India

TOP NEWS

* Shares of Just Eat PLC jumped about 25% in morning trading in London, as it received a cash offer from Naspers Ltd. spinoff Prosus NV, challenging the food delivery company's planned merger with Takeaway.com NV. However, Just Eat's board unanimously rejected the offer, saying that it "significantly undervalues" the company. Prosus valued Just Eat at approximately £4.9 billion, representing about a 20.5% premium on the closing price of 589.4 pence of Just Eat's shares Oct. 21. The proposed terms of the all-stock deal with Takeaway.com value Just Eat at 731 pence per share, or about £5 billion.

* Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a stable business environment in the country, The Economic Times (India) reported, citing sources. India's new foreign investment rules for e-commerce companies had reportedly forced Walmart subsidiary Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. to overhaul its business, and it is also facing scrutiny over its discounting practices. A Walmart India spokesperson reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Convenience store operator Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Ltd. will be stopping 24-hour operations at eight of its outlets from Nov. 1, amid a labor crunch in the country, Kyodo News reported. Additionally, the Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd. unit may shorten operating hours at more of its stores after the initial trial that began in March.

* South African food retailer Pick n Pay Stores Ltd. said its reported diluted headline EPS for the first half of fiscal 2019 came in at 90.61 South African cents, 18.8% higher than 76.27 cents in the year-ago period. For the 26 weeks ended Sept. 1, the company posted a 4.8% year-over-year growth in revenue to 44.2 billion rand from 42.2 billion rand.

* Grocer Carrefour SA's Brazilian arm said total sales, excluding gasoline, grew 8.9% to 14.44 billion reais during the third quarter, while same-store sales increased by 3.8%.

* South Korea's E-Mart Inc. has appointed Kang Heui-seok as its new CEO, Yonhap News Agency reported. Kang joins the hypermarket chain from consulting firm Bain & Co.

* Dutch grocer Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV named Arla Foods CFO Natalie Knight as its executive vice president, finance, effective March 1, 2020. Knight will also be nominated by the supervisory board to be appointed as CFO in April 2020, replacing Jeff Carr who will join Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC.

* Up to 12,000 workers at British grocer Asda Stores Ltd. may lose their jobs if they do not sign contracts that reduce their pay and benefits, according to a note by labor union GMB. The union is urging the Walmart Inc. arm to withdraw its contract, which goes into effect Nov. 2.

BEVERAGES

* Anheuser-Busch InBev SA has set up a production unit in India, called 7 Rivers Brewing Co., and is expected to introduce two wheat beer variants in the first week of November, while United Breweries Ltd. will roll out locally made wheat beer by 2019-end, The Economic Times (India) reported, citing unnamed sources.

TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS

* Massachusetts Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins declined to immediately halt a four-month ban on e-cigarette sales in the state, but said the state must redo the ban and get public comment, Reuters reported. Wilkins said Governor Charlie Baker has until Oct. 28 to reissue the ban, the report said.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Chicago-based packaged food producer Conagra Brands Inc. completed the sale of its Direct Store Delivery snacks business to Utz Quality Foods LLC. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

* Brazilian meat processor JBS SA confirmed that it is exploring a potential listing of its shares in the U.S., Reuters reported, citing a securities filing. The company reportedly said in the filing that internal studies, involving different options for legal structure and timing of the potential deal, are underway.

* Mexican dairy-goods maker Grupo Lala SAB de CV reported a 2.7% growth in 2019 third-quarter net sales to 18.98 billion Mexican pesos from 18.48 billion pesos in the year-ago quarter. During the three-month period, EBITDA margin expanded by 240 basis points, resulting in a 28% year-over-year comparable growth to 2.31 billion pesos from 1.80 billion pesos.

* Dairy-products maker Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd. raised its fiscal 2019-2020 outlook for its farmgate milk price, or the price it pays farmers, to between NZ$6.55 and NZ$7.55 per kilogram of milk solids, or kgMS, from a range of NZ$6.25 per kgMS to NZ$7.25 per kgMS.

RESTAURANTS

* Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. said it will roll out the vegan breakfast sandwich it created with Beyond Meat Inc. nationwide beginning Nov. 6.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng gained 0.23% to 26,786.20.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 lifted 0.37% to 7,189.91, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.11% to 1,091.46.

On the macro front

The Redbook Index for retail sales, the existing homes sales report and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index 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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