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Supervalu eyes shift to holding company; Unilever 'unlikely' to stay in FTSE 100

TOP NEWS

* U.S.-based food retailer SuperValu Inc. plans to reorganize the company's corporate structure to become a holding company after facing pressure in recent months from activist investor Blackwells Capital LLC. The proposed plan would organize and separate the wholesale and retail operations held by SuperValu Inc., facilitate the sale of certain retail assets, increase the company's strategic flexibility and enable the company to achieve strategic transformation in a tax-efficient manner, SuperValu said. The company expects the reorganization, which is up for a shareholder vote at Supervalu's next annual meeting, to generate approximately $300 million of cash tax benefits over the course of about 15 years.

* Unilever NV new shares is "extremely unlikely" to be included in the FTSE 100 Index, where the consumer goods company is the third-largest firm, after Unilever simplifies its dual-headed structure, CFO Graeme Pitkethly told analysts at a Deutsche Bank conference. Although shareholders have expressed concerns regarding the company's departure from FTSE's U.K. series after unifying its corporate headquarters in the Netherlands, Pitkethly upheld Unilever's move, saying it is the "right thing for the company," adding that Unilever will maintain its London premium listing. Speaking about the recent rallies in Brazil, where Unilever generates 6% of its sales, Pitkethly said the retailer now expects first-half sales growth to be below the bottom end of its full-year range of between 3% and 5%. This accounts for a second-quarter sales impact of about €150 million.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Gap Inc. has named former Billabong International Ltd. CEO Neil Fiske as president and CEO of its flagship Gap brand, effective June 20, replacing Jeff Kirwan who left the company in February. Gap CEO and President Art Peck previously noted that he and Kirwan mutually agreed to the change in leadership.

* Kering SA said the creative director of its Bottega Veneta brand, Tomas Maier, will leave the fashion house after the brand slowed in momentum, posting a 6.8% decline in sales in the company's most recent earnings report. Although Kering is yet to name a successor for Maier, industry sources told Women's Wear Daily that Pitti Uomo designer Craig Green and Phoebe Philo, former creative director of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE unit Celine, could be top candidates for the role.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Macy's Inc. appointed Naveen Krishna as its chief technology officer, effective June 16, reporting to Macy's President Hal Lawton. Most recently, Krishna was vice president of technology for Home Depot Inc.

E-COMMERCE

* Microsoft Corp. is developing technology that would track items that shoppers add to their carts, which, once deployed in retail stores, may rival Amazon.com Inc.'s checkout-free brick-and-mortar grocery store Amazon Go, according to a Reuters report, citing six sources. The software company reportedly held talks with Walmart Inc. for a potential partnership, according to three of the sources. Microsoft's internal team built cameras attached to shopping carts and also looked into ways to integrate the use of smartphones to implement the checkout software, people familiar with the matter told the news outlet.

* Online fashion retailer N Brown Group PLC is looking into closing all of its 20 stores after experiencing "continued weak high-street footfall" in the first quarter of 2019. N Brown said a consultation process is underway to discuss the company's options for its store real estate, and it expects the discussions to be completed by October. The U.K. retailer expects to incur an exceptional cost of £18 million to £22 million should N Brown decide to close all of its retail stores.

* Rakuten Inc. will start a two-year trial run of Rakuten OverDrive, the digital library service of its U.S.-based subsidiary OverDrive Inc., in Kobe City, Japan, beginning June 22. Rakuten and the local government of Kobe agreed to roll out the service, which gives people access to a wide selection of e-books, at every municipal library in the city.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s Indian unit launched Seller Lending Network, a platform that connects its marketplace sellers with local third-party lenders to obtain loans through an online process, with a turnaround time of two to three days, the Press Trust of India reported. Amazon India has partnered with Indian lenders including Aditya Birla Finance Ltd, Capital First Ltd, Capital Float, Bank of Baroda, Yes Bank Ltd. and Flexiloans Technologies Pvt. Ltd. to offer the service, according to the report.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* California-based company Chef'd will offer meal kits in 30 Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Duane Reade stores in New York as part of the food provider's partnership with WH Group Ltd's meat products unit Smithfield Foods Inc., CNBC reported. The collaboration, which marks one of the first between a drugstore chain and meal-kit business, will see Chef'd offer three different meals at the stores, according to the report.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Total retail sales in China reached 3.036 trillion Chinese yuan in May, an increase of 8.5% year over year, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. On a month-to-month basis, growth slowed from the 9.4% year-over-year rise posted for April. In urban areas of the country, May retail sales grew 8.3% on the year to 2.609 trillion yuan, while in rural areas they rose 9.6% to 426.7 billion yuan.

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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 was down 0.93% to 30,440.17, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.99% to 22,738.61.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.47% to 7,667.60, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.45% to 1,058.74.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the retail sales report, the import and export prices report, the business inventories report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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