* Takeaway.com NV is close to securing a merger with Just Eat PLC, possibly putting an end to its takeover battle against Prosus NV for the U.K. food-delivery company, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Just Eat investors holding more than 50% of the company's stock reportedly have signaled that they will agree to Takeaway.com's all-stock offer, valuing the company at about £6 billion. Bloomberg said representatives for Just Eat and Takeaway declined to comment, while a representative for Prosus could not immediately provide a comment.
* Borden Dairy Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware as it aims to reduce its debt. The milk producer said it plans to continue operating in the ordinary course of business under the court's supervision. The announcement comes after U.S. milk producer Dean Foods Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2019.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* Amazon.com Inc. is looking into opening physical stores in Germany, Reuters reported, citing Amazon Germany head Ralf Kleber in an interview with newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Kleber, who declined to provide additional details or a timetable, also said Amazon is pushing for people to use their Alexa voice-controlled devices for shopping, the report added.
* Amazon.com's Indian arm will become the authorized online sales channel for Future Retail Ltd.'s stores, India's Mint reported, citing a joint statement from the two companies. Future Retail reportedly plans to list on Amazon Prime Now in order to offer food, grocery and general merchandise delivery within two hours in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Amazon Retail India Pvt. Ltd. also agreed to distribute Future Consumer Ltd.'s portfolio of brands online, the report added.
* Pizza chain Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. partnered with DoorDash Inc. to provide delivery from "thousands" of its stores across the U.S.
* U.K. catering and support services provider Compass Group PLC said Paul Walsh plans to step down as chairman and a director of the company to focus on other business interests. Walsh will remain as chairman until a successor is named.
* French grocer Carrefour SA acquired lunch delivery startup Dejbox for an undisclosed amount. The retailer plans to expand its online grocery offerings to include ready-to-eat meals and a business-to-employee market.
* German grocer Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG said sales in the four weeks to Dec. 24, 2019, rose 7.9% year over year, compared with the 10% growth in the holiday period of 2018, the Financial Times reported.
* Coca-Cola Co. said it bought the 57.5% of milk distributor Fairlife LLC it did not already own from its joint venture partner Select Milk Producers.
TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS
* Virginia-based leaf tobacco supplier Universal Corp. said it completed its acquisition of fruit and vegetable ingredient processor FruitSmart for an undisclosed sum.
* The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is preparing to go to court again over allegations that a forerunner to The Kraft Heinz Co. and Mondelez International Inc. manipulated wheat markets, marking a revival of the conflict between the CFTC and the food companies that dates back to 2011. However, no trial date has been set, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Kraft Heinz declined to comment on the case. Mondelez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
* Lassonde Industries Inc. said it completed its acquisition of snack and beverage maker Sun-Rype Products Ltd. and its two affiliates in the U.S. The Canadian agri-food company bought Sun-Rype and its associated businesses from The Jim Pattison Group for C$89.3 million in cash, including C$9.3 million in preliminary working capital adjustments.
* U.S. egg producer Cal-Maine Foods Inc. reported a diluted loss per share of 21 cents in the fiscal second quarter, compared with diluted EPS of 45 cents in the year-ago period. "While our sales volumes remained relatively flat in the second quarter compared to last year, our financial results reflect lower average selling prices compared with the same period of fiscal 2019," CEO Dolph Baker said.
* Restaurant operators in South Korea raised competition concerns over Delivery Hero SE's €3.6 billion proposal to buy local food ordering and delivery platform Woowa Brothers Corp., Reuters reported, citing a news conference at the South Korean parliament. The report said restaurant owners are worried that the combined Delivery Hero and Woowa entity would hike the commissions that it charges restaurant owners for taking orders through their apps. A Woowa spokesman told Reuters that it is not planning on raising commission fees post-merger.
* McDonald's Corp. CEO Chris Kempczinski is looking to hire a top human-resources executive as the company seeks to restore a more professional culture, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. According to one source, Kempczinski reportedly met with employees and franchisees in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Switzerland to gather feedback regarding the fast-food chain's culture. The move comes after former CEO Steve Easterbrook was ousted after having a consensual relationship with an employee.
* Bulgaria is set to slaughter 24,000 pigs following an outbreak of African swine fever at a pig farm in the northeast of the country, Reuters reported, citing Bulgarian veterinary authorities.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng lost 0.79% to 28,226.19, while the Nikkei 225 was down 1.91% to 23,204.86.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 slid 0.94% to 7,550.50, and the Euronext 100 fell 1.13% to 1,144.27.
On the macro front
The PMI Services Index and TD Ameritrade IMX 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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