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China National Tobacco to list unit; Indian taxes to hit US exports worth $900M


* Chinese tobacco monopoly China National Tobacco Corp., the world's largest producer of tobacco products, plans to list its international unit in Hong Kong. The disclosure came Jan. 2 in a preliminary filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that offered little information on the planned IPO of China Tobacco International Inc. Many details were redacted, including the size and timing of the proposed listing. The move comes at a time when the demand for cigarettes is declining, while the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise.

* According to the latest Congressional report, India's proposed tariffs on U.S. agricultural products will hit U.S. exports worth about $900 million, The Economic Times reported. India had announced in 2018 that it may increase import duties on products such as apples, almonds and lentils, after President Trump's decision to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum items. However, India has postponed the implementation of retaliatory tariffs despite announcing them over six months ago.


* India-based food delivery app, Zomato Media Private Ltd., is in talks with Chinese private equity firm Primavera Capital Group and its existing financier Ant Financial Services Group to raise between $500 million and $1 billion, The Economic Times reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter. Zomato's move comes after its rival Swiggy raised $1 billion in a funding round led by Naspers Ltd.

* Inc.'s subsidiary Whole Foods Market Inc. said it would hold a three-day supplement sale starting Jan. 4. Customers can access a 25% discount on all supplements at Whole Foods Market, including all brands of vitamins, minerals, powders and probiotics. Prime members can get an additional 10% off on the discounted prices.

* Spanish supermarket operator Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentación SA, or Dia, said it signed €896 million financing deals with investors to refinance its debt and improve liquidity. The deals include short-term liquidity of up to €215 million and financing of up to €681 million through working capital financial instruments, the company said. The financing will mature May 31, with tranches of lower amounts maturing in 2020 and 2022. It also committed to continue the divestment procedures for its Clarel and Cash & Carry businesses, as well as capital increase of €600 million.


* The Netherlands-based soft drinks bottler Refresco Group NV initiated a consolidation of the main companies of the group. Under the consolidation, its subsidiary Refresco Holding BV, Sunshine Investments BV and Refresco Group have been merged into a single entity, Refresco Holding BV. Sunshine Investments BV was the bidco of private equity firm PAI Partners and pension fund British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, which acquired the bottling company in April 2018.


* Xanthic Biopharma Inc., which does business as Green Growth Brands, reaffirmed its offer to buy all the issued and outstanding common shares of Aphria Inc. that it does not already own. It invited early expressions from Aphria's shareholders who are not happy with Aphria's performance. Aphria had stated that Green Growth's C$2.8 billion offer undervalued the company.


* Chinese agricultural ministry tightened slaughter regulations and said slaughterhouses need to run African swine fever test for pig products before selling them to the market, in a move to control the disease's spread, Reuters reported. Under the regulation, which will be effective Feb. 1, slaughterhouses must slaughter pigs from different origins separately and cut all pigs and suspend operations for 48 hours if an outbreak is found, the report added. The move comes after a farm with 73,000 pigs in Heilongjiang province reported a new outbreak of swine fever.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 2.77% to 25,130.35, while the Nikkei 225 was closed.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 decreased 0.82% to 6,672.97, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.36% to 904.15.

On the macro front

The Redbook report and the Purchasing Managers' Manufacturing index report is 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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