* Walmart Inc. hired Mark Greenberg, who earlier worked as CEO at pay-television channel Epix, to work on a project that will offer video streaming on subscription, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the plans. Although Greenberg has been advertising Walmart for several months, the report said that the company has yet to work out the details of the plan and will arrive at a decision "by late summer or early fall." The streaming service would target consumers who live outside of cities and would include a lower-priced monthly subscription than those offered by Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
* Online gaming company GVC Holdings PLC and casino operator MGM Resorts International formed a 50-50 joint venture to create a new sports betting and online gaming platform in the U.S., both committing an initial $100 million each for the venture. According to the announcement, the joint venture will provide access to all U.S. land-based and online sports betting, online real money and free-to-play casino gaming, major tournament and online poker, and other similar interactive businesses. It will also integrate the loyalty programs of both gaming companies. The companies will establish a separate headquarters for the new business, which they plan to set up in a major U.S. technology hub.
* U.S. technology giant International Business Machines Corp., or IBM, was awarded $83 million by a jury in Delaware after it won an infringement lawsuit against e-commerce firm Groupon Inc., which allegedly used patented technology without authorization, Reuters reported. IBM reportedly sought $167 million in the dispute against Groupon, which argued that some of IBM's patents should not have been granted due to being obvious ideas, adding that the value of the patents is "far less than what the jury awarded."
* South Korean retailer Lotte Co. Ltd. will introduce an e-commerce department Aug. 1 that will be in charge of an online platform for all seven of the conglomerate's subsidiaries, including Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd., Yonhap News Agency reported. The new branch reportedly is expected to launch a mobile application in 2020, with plans of hiring 400 additional workers by 2019 to its existing employee base of about 1,400 staff. Meanwhile, business unit Lotte Duty-Free will expand its online, downtown and overseas marketing efforts since part of its operations at Incheon International Airport will be shut down July 31, the report added.
* Japan's Rakuten Inc. and Gurunavi Inc. formed a capital and business alliance, under which the two e-commerce firms will integrate their membership programs and jointly operate an online restaurant reservation service, a market valued at ¥450.2 billion in 2017. As part of the partnership, Rakuten bought a 9.6% stake in Gurunavi via a secondary offering of shares, which will be transferred Aug. 22 from Gurunavi representative director and chairman Hisao Taki.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. posted results that were "ahead of the market growth across most geographies and categories" for the first fiscal quarter of 2019. For the three months ended June 30, the Indian household products maker reported that consolidated net profit and EPS, excluding exceptional and one-off items, grew 36%, while consolidated constant currency sales also increased 10% year over year.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Investor advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis has recommended that investors of drug retailer Rite Aid Corp. vote against a merger with grocery chain Albertsons Cos. Inc., CNBC reported. A number of Rite Aid shareholders had previously been said to be against the $24 billion merger over concerns that the deal undervalued the drug firm.
* Asda Stores Ltd.'s chief merchandising officer, Jesús Lorente, will leave the company at an undisclosed date, following the departure of CFO Alex Russo, the U.K. subsidiary of Walmart confirmed in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence. In a note issued to employees, CEO Roger Burnley confirmed Lorente's departure, adding that Anthony Hemmerdinger will take on a new role of senior vice president of operations, managing the company's logistics and supply functions, while commercial functions will report to Burnley.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPER CENTERS
* Metro AG said its real estate unit, Metro Properties, sold the wholesale arm and office spaces of Makro Spain for €86 million to LaSalle Investment Management, on behalf of Encore+, via a sale-and-lease-back transaction.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Fnac Darty SA said it will review all possible legal options to challenge the French Competition Authority's sanction against the combined entity after it failed to dispose assets as part of a requirement when Fnac took over Darty. The antitrust regulator ordered the merged company to dispose of its Darty Passy and Darty Montmartre stores, in replacement of the Darty Saint-Ouen, Belleville, and Fnac Beaugrenelle stores that it failed to sell before July 31, 2017, in relation to the transaction. The electronics retailer, which said in response that it has found a buyer for its Darty Passy and Darty Montmartre outlets, was also fined €20 million by the French agency.
* Japanese leisure products manufacturer Shimano Inc. increased its earnings guidance for full-year 2018 after posting strong earnings for the first half despite the cautious investment sentiment of companies from differing standpoints on trade policies. For the six months ended June 30, the company reported basic EPS of ¥299 versus ¥202.03 in the year-ago period, while net sales grew to ¥174.73 billion, compared with ¥163.08 billion in the first half of 2017. Shimano also said it now expects basic EPS for fiscal 2018 to come in at ¥531.81, compared with its previous guidance of ¥496.21, still higher than basic EPS of ¥414.69 reported a year ago.
HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES
* Thomas Cook Group PLC has "no current plans" to sell its airline, a spokesperson for the British travel services provider said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The statement comes in response to a report by The Sunday Times that said Thomas Cook was considering selling a stake in its airline to an outside investor in a bid to reduce debt and expand its travel business.
CASINOS AND GAMING
* MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming Corp. teamed up to expand their online and mobile gaming presence across the U.S., which will see the casino operators run land-based gaming facilities in 15 states, including Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania. Under the partnership, the companies will be able to offer online and mobile gaming platforms in areas where either Boyd Gaming or MGM Resorts operate physical casino resorts and online licenses.
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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 0.25% to 28,733.13. The Nikkei 225 slid 0.74% to 22,544.84.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.07% to 7,696.08, and the Euronext 100 lost 0.30% to 1,077.55.
On the macro front
The pending home sales index is due out today.
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