* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed co-founder Jack Ma when he steps down as executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce giant in one year. Ma will continue in his current role until Sept. 10, 2019, to ensure a smooth transition, the company said. He will also complete his current term as a member of Alibaba's board of directors until its 2020 annual general meeting of shareholders.
* Swiss luxury goods maker Compagnie Financière Richemont SA appointed COO Jérôme Lambert the CEO of the group, effective immediately. Lambert was the first to assume the COO role when it was created in late 2017, as part of his extensive career with the company that has included leading the Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc brands. In his new group CEO role, Lambert will oversee Richemont's specialist watchmakers, online distributors and other businesses, as well as central and regional functions.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Nike Inc.'s online sales rose 27% days after launching its ad campaign that features American football athlete Colin Kaepernick, CNBC reported, citing data from e-commerce research firm Edison Trends. The development comes after analysts said Nike's move to sign Kaepernick, who is protesting racial injustice and police brutality, will pay off in the long term as young professionals are likely to buy from brands that align with their political beliefs.
* Debenhams PLC's shares dropped to as low as £10.35 in London mid-morning trading after reports surfaced that the British department store chain has roped in advisers to explore restructuring plans that may result in closing some of its stores. A source familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that the company appointed auditing firm KPMG to explore turnaround options, including seeking creditor approval for a company voluntary arrangement, the U.K. equivalent of a bankruptcy protection filing in the U.S. Debenhams did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.
* Amazon.com Inc. is looking to launch Amazon Go, its checkout-free brick-and-mortar grocery store, in New York after an earlier launch in Seattle, Reuters reported, citing an Amazon spokesperson. The company's checkout-free grocery store allows customers to shop using their smartphone app without cashiers.
* Rakuten Inc. entered into a multiyear global partnership with events organizer Spartan Race Inc. Beginning Sept. 29, the Japanese firm's branding will be integrated across Spartan's racing events, advertising and merchandise, while Rakuten will provide the U.S. organizer with technology and marketing services. Separately, Rakuten updated its brand symbol, effective Oct. 1, to a red, underlined R that incorporates the Japanese character for the number one and represents the retailer's ability to move with speed.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* The Competition and Markets Authority's probe into J Sainsbury PLC's merger with Walmart Inc.-owned Asda Stores Ltd. may cause the deal to fall through, Sainsbury CEO Mike Coupe told the Financial Times. The executive's acknowledgment of the matter comes after an analysis by The Times that the CMA may require the retailers to sell up to 300 stores to ease market share concerns. "There is an EBITDA threshold at which point either party has the right to walk away," Coupe said, adding that the number refers to the company's level of profitability instead of its store count.
* Associated British Foods PLC expects that strong profit performances across its business units, including Primark, will "more than offset" the effect of lower sugar prices in the EU. The food company maintained its adjusted operating profit and adjusted EPS guidance for full-year 2018. However, it warned that the exchange rate applicable to Primark sales in the second half "will be sensitive to sterling exchange rate volatility" due to Brexit negotiations.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* The Lithuanian government asked Walmart Inc. to withdraw its products that feature Soviet hammer-and-sickle symbols, The Guardian reported. Lithuania was the first republic to secede from the Soviet Union in 1990. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in a tweet likened the products to "Nazi-themed clothing" and called the hammer and sickle "symbols of mass murders."
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Waterstones Booksellers Ltd. agreed to acquire W & G Foyle Ltd. from the Foyle family for an undisclosed amount. The transaction between the booksellers is expected to complete before 2018-end, after which CEO Paul Currie and finance director John Browne will exit Foyles.
* Barnes & Noble Inc.'s shares rose 21% after investor Richard Schottenfeld disclosed a 6.9% stake in the bookseller, Reuters reported. Schottenfeld, which previously owned 5.7% of the retailer, said he will continue talks with Barnes & Noble founder and chairman Leonard Riggio about matters including changes in leadership and a possible sale of the company. A company spokeswoman said Barnes & Noble is not "engaged in a process to sell itself," the report added.
HOTELS, CASINOS AND GAMING
* Activist investor SpringOwl Asset Management urged Playtech PLC to sell its noncore financial services units and focus on gaming, SpringOwl founder Jason Ader told Reuters. Ader, whose company holds a $100 million stake in Playtech, reportedly said it is "not advocating any fire sale or any rushed transaction," but it hopes the gaming company will "not have the distraction" in the long term. The gambling software developer recently sold its entire holding in trading platform operator Plus500 Ltd.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 1.33% to 26,613.42. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.30% to 22,373.09.
In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.36% to 7,304.01, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.48% to 1,034.28.
On the macro front
The consumer credit report and the TD Ameritrade Investor Movement 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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