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Walmart taps ex-Google exec as tech chief; Beyond Meat eyes European expansion

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Walmart taps ex-Google exec as tech chief; Beyond Meat eyes European expansion

TOP NEWS

* Walmart Inc. said it appointed Suresh Kumar to the newly elevated role of chief technology officer and chief development officer. Kumar, who will report directly to CEO Doug McMillon, was most recently Google LLC vice president and general manager of display, video, app ads and analytics. Kumar also spent 15 years at Amazon.com Inc. in several leadership roles. The appointment comes after Jeremy King, Walmart's former chief technology officer and executive vice president, left the retailer in March to join Pinterest Inc.

* Beyond Meat Inc. said it will begin making its plant-based meat products in Europe in 2020 as it announced the construction of its first production plant outside the U.S. Beyond Meat's new plant in the Netherlands is part of its expanded partnership with meat distributor Zandbergen World's Finest Meat. The facility is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart-owned Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. are unlikely to fully cooperate in a "fact-finding" survey distributed by the Competition Commission of India to online businesses operating in the country over worries that their trade secrets will be revealed, Reuters reported, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The document reportedly contains 88 questions and asks for information about volunteer pricing strategies and identities of top-selling vendors, among other topics. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* French food retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA said its board has decided it will not pay an interim dividend in 2019 to reduce its debt. The announcement follows S&P Global Ratings' downgrade of Casino's ratings to B from BB-, citing parent Rallye SA's entry into safeguard proceedings. The company was also placed on CreditWatch negative, reflecting the possibility that Casino may be indirectly affected by Rallye entering bankruptcy protection.

BEVERAGES

* Japanese beverage company Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. plans to make all of its plastic bottles renewable by 2030, switching to a combination of recycled and plant-based materials, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The company reportedly plans to invest about ¥50 billion to make its bottles renewable. The investment includes a new facility in the U.S. in partnership with biomass chemicals startup Anellotech. Suntory expects to produce some drinks in bottles made from 100% plant-derived material by 2024, the Nikkei added.

* Spirits company Beam Suntory said it will establish its own route to market in Brazil beginning July 1, ending its distribution agreement with Bacardi Ltd. Bacardi previously managed the company's business in the country for the past five years. Beam Suntory added that over the last three years, it has established its own distribution operations in "key spirits markets," including China, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

* Agricultural commodity trader Louis Dreyfus Co. BV said it agreed to renew a $750 million revolving credit facility in North America, which will be priced according to company's performance in terms of its stainability goals. Under the new loan, the interest rate will be linked to reductions in CO2 emissions, electricity consumption, water usage and solid waste sent to landfill. The interest rate margin will be reduced for each year the company improves its sustainability performance.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Packaged foods company Conagra Brands Inc. said it successfully divested its Italian frozen pasta business Gelit Srl to an Italian investment company owned by Consilum SGR SpA, Progressio SGR SpA and MMM Srl. The deal included Conagra's entire equity interest in Gelit as part of the transaction. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RESTAURANTS

* French catering and food service company Elior Group SA said revenue for the first half of 2019 came in at €2.60 billion, up 1.4% from €2.56 billion a year ago. The figure missed the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus revenue estimate of €3.18 billion, with three analysts reporting. For the full year 2018-2019, the company expects negative organic growth of 1%, including the impact of voluntary contract exits in Italy.

* Italian coffee-maker Luigi Lavazza SpA has no plans for a market listing soon and added that it is "not even on the [company's] medium-term radar," Reuters reported, citing Vice President Giuseppe Lavazza. The company plans to focus on organic growth and the integration of companies it bought last year, Lavazza added. However, the company did not rule out a stock market listing at a later date, the report said.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng lost 0.57% to 27,235.71, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.21% to 21,003.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 1.29% to 7,174.82, and the Euronext 100 declined 1.34% to 1,024.96.

On the macro front

The U.S. Redbook, U.S. Richmond Fed manufacturing index and U.S. State Street investor confidence 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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