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Third Point tells Campbell to delay CEO search; Altria may buy stake in Aphria

TOP NEWS

* Third Point LLC pressed Campbell Soup Co. to put off its search for a permanent CEO, the latest blow in the activist hedge fund's campaign for change at the soup maker. In a letter to Les Vinney, the chairman of Campbell's board of directors, Third Point said the food company should put its executive search on hold until after board elections later this fall. Campbell shareholders are expected to vote on board candidates, including a full slate put forth by Third Point, at the company's annual meeting Nov. 29.

* U.S. cigarette maker Altria Group Inc. has held recent talks with Canada-based Aphria Inc. about buying a minority stake in the cannabis grower, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported, citing multiple sources. New York-based Altria, the tobacco giant that sells Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S., expressed interest in eventually owning a majority stake in Aphria, the report added. Altria spokesman David Sutton declined to comment on the report to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The deal would push Altria into the Canadian cannabis market as the country is set to legalize recreational use Oct. 17.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Costco Wholesale Corp.'s net sales in September grew 10.3% to $13.64 billion from $12.37 billion in the same month a year ago. For the five-week period ended Oct. 7, comparable sales of the warehouse club operator rose 8.4% year over year, with its U.S. business posting the highest growth rate at 10.4%. The company's e-commerce comparable sales went up 28.6% in September.

* The Kroger Co. said it began rolling out meal kits by Home Chef at some of its stores in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The launch comes a few months after the U.S. supermarket chain completed its acquisition of the meal-kit delivery company. Kroger said it expects to distribute Home Chef meal kits to more markets next year.

* Tokyo-based convenience store operator FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. Ltd. said it will sell its remaining 60% stake in its subsidiary Uny Co. Ltd. to Japanese general merchandise retailer Don Quijote Holdings Co. Ltd. Don Quijote already holds 40% of Uny following an agreement with FamilyMart in 2017. In the latest announcement, FamilyMart also said it will deepen ties with Don Quijote amid a challenging retail environment in Japan and that it will acquire 20.17%, or 32,108,700 shares, of Don Quijote for ¥6,600 per share for a total consideration of ¥211.92 billion.

* Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme-owned supermarket chain Monoprix said its partnership with Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Now delivery service in Paris has been successful so far, Reuters reported, citing Monoprix CEO Regis Schultz. The report added that nearly a month after the launch of the service, the number of orders has exceeded both companies' expectations. Schultz said Monoprix is ready to follow Amazon's expansion in all big French cities, Reuters added.

* Eurotorg LLC confirmed that it plans to float more than $300 million in global depositary receipts on the London Stock Exchange to raise about $200 million in primary proceeds to the Belarusian grocery chain. The company also appointed Piotr Nowjalis, Yulia Solovyeva and Nick Katselapov as independent nonexecutive directors, effective either after or immediately prior to the date of its admission to the stock exchange.

RESTAURANTS

* About 400 operators of McDonald's Corp. restaurants gathered to discuss their concerns that the fast-food company's sales growth is not fast enough to keep up with the cost of updating its stores, The Wall Street Journal reported. The fast-food chain's franchise owners have been given responsibility to update their stores, which is part of the company's turnaround strategy. The group that attended the meeting represents about one-quarter of the U.S. franchise owners, and the franchisees reportedly agreed to proceed with steps form an independent operators' association. However, no formal vote to officially form the association has been taken or scheduled.

* U.K.-based bar operator Revolution Bars Group PLC said it has terminated talks regarding the possible acquisition of club operator The Deltic Group Ltd., following a period of due diligence. Revolution Bars' board concluded that a transaction with Deltic would not be in the best interests of its shareholders.

* Kettlebell Kitchen Inc., which provides healthy prepared meals and custom meal plans in the U.S., raised $26.7 million in series B financing. The growth equity round was led by private equity firm North Castle Partners LLC, which invests in consumer businesses that promote healthy, active and sustainable living.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Irish nutritional foods producer Glanbia PLC said it has agreed to acquire U.S.-based weight management company SlimFast from KSF Holdings LLP and HNS Intermediate Corp., which jointly own SlimFast and its other brands, for $350 million. The transaction, subject to customary conditions, is expected to close before year-end.

* Sustainable plastic technology company Loop Industries Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. signed a multiyear supply agreement that will enable the soft drinks giant to incorporate Loop's recyclable PET plastic into its product packaging by early 2020. The agreement, which includes a marketing and communications plan to raise awareness about a circular economy, also enables PepsiCo to purchase production capacity from Loop's joint venture facility in the U.S.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 3.54% to 25,266.37, and the Nikkei 225 declined 3.89% to 22,590.86.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.65% to 7,027.61, and the Euronext 100 fell 1.70% to 991.57.

On the macro front

The consumer price index, the jobless claims report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the Energy Information Administration petroleum status report, the Treasury Budget 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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