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Yum China taps CICC, Goldman for Hong Kong listing; Albertsons weighs IPO


* Yum China Holdings Inc. has tapped China International Capital Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in preparation for its proposed second listing in Hong Kong, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The details of the share sale, which could take place as soon as 2020, reportedly could still change. A representative for Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the matter, while representatives for Yum China and CICC did not immediately respond to requests for comment, the report added. Yum China operates Yum! Brands Inc.'s KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlets in the country.

* Albertsons Cos. Inc. is planning to launch an IPO that could value the grocer at $19 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The owner of Safeway and Jewel-Osco could arrive with a decision in the "coming weeks," the report said. Albertsons and Cerberus did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's requests for comment.


* Sysco Corp. said President and CEO Tom Bené will step down from his roles, effective Jan. 31. The Texas-based foodservice distributor's board has elected Kevin Hourican, CVS Health Corp.'s executive vice president and president of CVS Pharmacy, as Bené's replacement, starting Feb. 1. Bené also stepped down as chairman of Sysco on Jan. 13, with lead independent director Ed Shirley named as his replacement.


* Bottled water provider Cott Corp. has agreed to buy Primo Water Corp. in a cash and stock deal for $14.00 per share, valuing the North Carolina-based company at about $775 million. Nasdaq-listed Primo provides water dispensers, purified bottled water and self-service refill drinking water in the U.S. and Canada.


* Juul Labs Inc. received about 2,600 health complaints linked to the use of its e-cigarettes, with some reporting burning sensations in the lungs, blistered lips and vomiting, Bloomberg News reported, citing an internal report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A Juul spokesman reportedly told the news outlet that the rate of complaints it received per Juul pod sold "is very low."


* Beyond Meat Inc. is looking to use a wider range of plant proteins for its burgers, sausages and other meat-alternative products as it looks to expand outside the U.S., Executive Chairman Seth Goldman told an audience at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York.

* Packaged food and drinks company TreeHouse Foods Inc. and Post Holdings Inc. have mutually agreed to scrap a deal for Post's ready-to-eat cereal business. The decision was based on the Federal Trade Commission's opposition to the deal in December 2019.

* TreeHouse Foods Inc. agreed to sell two of its in-store bakery facilities in Minnesota and California to family-owned Rich Products Corp. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Swiss chocolatier Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG confirmed its mid- to long-term sales growth target of 5% to 7% as it reported a 6.1% year-over-year increase in its organic sales for 2019. The company said all three of its regions, Europe, North America and rest of the world, saw sales increase during the year.


* TGI Friday's Inc. is looking to revamp its bars as it plans to launch an IPO again, CNBC reported. CEO Ray Blanchette reportedly said at a conference in Florida that the company is looking to relaunch the T.G.I. Fridays bar in 2020. CNBC noted that about 30% of the group's $2.1 billion in systemwide sales come from its bars.

* McDonald's Corp. is testing chicken sandwiches with monosodium glutamate, an ingredient that adds a savory taste, as it competes with Chick-fil-A Inc., Bloomberg News reported. "We are always listening to our customers regarding our menu offerings," a McDonald's spokeswoman reportedly said.

* Restaurant chain Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. recorded a 1.3% year-over-year increase in comparable restaurant revenue during the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, 2019. However, restaurant closures resulted in a 1.2% decline in total revenue for the period to $302.9 million.

* Restaurant franchisee Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. posted a 29.2% year-over-year rise in fourth-quarter sales to $397.6 million after incorporating the results of its acquisition of Cambridge restaurants. Cambridge accounted for $73.6 million of the total sales for the period.

* U.K. pub operator The City Pub Group PLC said a full-year total sales revenue increased 31% year over year to £59.8 million, while like-for-like sales rose 1.7%.


* Sugar sales from soft drinks dropped by 30% in the U.K. from 2015 through 2018, according to a study published in BMC Medicine. The study was conducted to assess how soft drink companies and consumers responded to calls to reduce sugar consumption.

* Imported soybean and pork from the U.S. into China have rebounded in November and December 2019 on the back of positive sentiment over the trade deal between the two countries, Reuters reported, citing China's customs Vice Minister Zou Zhiwu. In December, agricultural imports from the U.S. reached 14.1 billion yuan.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.24% to 28,885.14, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.73% to 24,025.17.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.23% to 7,600.13, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.14% to 1,154.97.

On the macro front

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, CPI and the Redbook 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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