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Blackstone to buy Great Wolf; Elliott pushes for sale of Hilton Grand Vacations

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Blackstone to buy Great Wolf; Elliott pushes for sale of Hilton Grand Vacations

TOP NEWS

* Blackstone Group Inc. is close to acquiring Great Wolf Resorts Inc. from fellow private equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Any deal reportedly would value the indoor water park operator at at least $2.9 billion, including debt. Representatives for the buyout firms did not comment on the matter, according to the report.

* Activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has been pushing for the sale of Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. even before the U.S. timeshare company considered the move, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Elliott, which is run by billionaire Paul Singer, reportedly built a less than 5% stake in Hilton Grand Vacations in July. Elliott and Hilton Grand Vacations both declined to comment to Bloomberg.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Esprit Holdings Ltd. reported a diluted loss of HK$1.14 per share for fiscal 2019, versus a loss of HK$1.35 in the previous year, while revenue fell to HK$12.93 billion from HK$15.46 billion. CEO Anders Kristiansen told analysts during an earnings call that the company saw a 40% drop in customer traffic in Hong Kong due to the protests.

* LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton SE appointed Christie Fleischer as CEO of its San Francisco-based makeup brand Benefit Cosmetics LLC. Fleischer was previously Netflix Inc.'s head of global consumer products.

* Footwear brand Giuseppe Zanotti named Eugenio Manghi its new CEO, Drapers reported. Manghi, who held a similar role in womenswear brand Elisabetta Franchi, reportedly will replace Nicola Brandolese. Brandolese was recently named managing director of Net-A-Porter, a unit under Compagnie Financière Richemont SA's YOOX Net-A-Porter Group.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Fitch Ratings downgraded J. C. Penney Co. Inc.'s long-term issuer default rating to CCC+ from B-, reflecting continued market share losses and declining EBITDA. The agency said there is a lack of a visible material turnaround for the troubled department store chain, but noted that there are no near-term liquidity concerns.

* Next PLC's EPS for the fiscal first half of 2019 climbed 7.5% to 199.5 pence from 185.6 pence in the year-ago period, while total group sales rose 3.7% year over year to £2.06 billion from £1.99 billion. On a statutory basis, EPS increased 8.8% to 204.4 pence from 187.9 pence. The U.K. clothing retailer, which raised its ordinary interim dividend to 57.5 pence from 55 pence a year ago, maintained its EPS growth outlook of 5.2% for the full year.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc. launched its global cash payment service Amazon PayCode in the U.S. Customers who want to pay in cash while shopping online select the Amazon PayCode option upon checkout and pay for their purchases at a participating Western Union Co. location.

* As expected, Amazon's Japanese unit began installing its locker delivery service, Amazon Hub, at FamilyMart Co. Ltd. stores, Odakyu Electric Railway Co. Ltd. stations and other sites, The Japan Times reported. Amazon Japan, which aims to expand the service network across the country in 2020, reportedly will introduce the service at dozens of locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture by the end of September.

* Zalando SE teamed up with Finnish startup RePack to launch a four-week pilot to test reusable packaging for customer deliveries.

* Airbnb Inc. recorded revenue of more than $1 billion for the second quarter of 2019, exceeding the billion-dollar level for the second time, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Airbnb reportedly did not disclose details on its profitability but said it collected over $1.6 billion in transient occupancy taxes as of June 1 and has more than 7 million listings globally.

HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* Kimberly-Clark Corp. appointed The J. M. Smucker Co. President and CEO Mark Smucker to its board, effective immediately.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Metro AG expanded its partnership with Too Good To Go by launching the anti-food waste app in France, Spain, Italy and Belgium following the pilot's success in Germany and the Netherlands. Under the expansion, the startup's app will begin offering products that are nearing their best-before date in Metro stores in Belgium, and the wholesaler will promote the app among its customers in Italy, Spain and France.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority is concerned that JD Sports Fashion PLC's purchase of competitor Footasylum PLC could result in higher prices, limited options or reduced quality of service for customers. The CMA, which completed its phase 1 investigation into the deal, said JD Sports must address the concerns or face an in-depth inquiry.

* Tiffany & Co. plans to open more stores in mainland China, including one in the Beijing airport, after seeing "a big increase in sales" in the local market, CEO Alessandro Bogliogo told Bloomberg TV. Bogliogo reportedly said the jeweler aims to make its flagship store in Shanghai its most important location, following its New York City site. The CEO added that the company will absorb the impact of the trade war between the U.S. and China instead of passing it to customers.

* Cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. issued a profit warning for the half year period ending Sept. 30 after seeing that group turnover for the five months to Aug. 31 dropped about 15% year over year to approximately HK$3 billion. The company attributed the weak sales performance in its core Hong Kong markets to the increasing tension between the U.S. and China, the depreciation of the renminbi and the protests in Hong Kong, which in turn led to a drop in visitor arrivals.

* Berkshire Hathaway Inc.-owned cookware company Pampered Chef Ltd. said CEO Tracy Britt Cool will step down from the company and will be replaced by COO Andrew Treanor, effective March 2020.

HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES

* U.K.-based hostel operator Safestay PLC signed a deal to acquire the Best Western Glasgow City Hotel for £3.15 million. Safestay intends to convert the 52-bedroom hotel into a 200-bed hostel, in line with its strategy to create a pan-European network of premium hostels.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Retail sales by value in the U.K. grew 3.4% year over year on a seasonally adjusted basis in August as sales volume increased 2.7%, according to the Office for National Statistics. Compared to the previous month, sales rose 0.1% in value but declined 0.2% in volume.

* Retail sales in South Africa rose 2% year over year in July, driven by sales in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods, according to the country's statistics department. In seasonally adjusted terms, retail trade sales in July increased 0.2% month over month, following a 0.7% increase in June and a 0.1% decline in May.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng dropped 1.07% to 26,468.95, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.38% to 22,044.45.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.59% to 7,357.54, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.25% to 1,091.33.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey, the current account report, existing home sales report, leading indicators report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report 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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