* Dutch online food delivery provider Takeaway.com NV said it has received acceptances from shareholders representing 80.4% of Just Eat PLC for its takeover offer, beating Prosus NV in a months-long battle for the British online food retailer. Shareholders of Takeaway.com also approved its planned takeover. Takeaway.com expects to declare the deal unconditional by Jan. 31.
* Monster Beverage Corp. said the January launch of Coca-Cola Co.'s new energy drink in the U.S. could dilute its shelf space and affect the focus of bottlers, Monster executives said during a special call with analysts. Despite flagging concerns over shelf space, Monster Chairman and CEO Rodney Sacks said the company does not believe that the Coca-Cola Energy brand will affect Monster's market share as the product is "being positioned differently" by the soft-drinks producer.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* French grocer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA is close to selling its discount chain Leader Price to its German rival Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. OHG in a deal worth €750 million, Reuters reported, citing a source with knowledge on the matter. Casino declined to comment, while privately held Aldi did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.
* Walmart Inc. sacked 56 executives in India as the retailer struggles to expand its wholesale operations in the country, Reuters reported, citing three sources with direct knowledge. The majority of the positions will reportedly be from Walmart India's real estate division because of the slow growth in the company's wholesale model. Reuters added that Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.
* Walmart opened its new case-ready facility in Thomasville, Ga., to support its new Angus beef supply chain. The opening of the 201,000-square-foot facility brings over 200 jobs in Georgia.
* Walmart-owned Asda Stores Ltd. has begun redundancy consultations with 2,832 of its staff who work back-office functions in its supermarkets as the grocer seeks to cut costs, The Guardian reported. The GMB trade union reportedly said Asda aims to halve back-office roles in each of its 639 stores, and the layoffs are expected to begin in April. "The way in which we operate our store-based back office has evolved over recent years to adapt to changing customer behavior," Asda reportedly said in a statement.
* J Sainsbury PLC's retail and operations director Simon Roberts is tipped to succeed Mike Coupe as the British grocer's CEO if the company decides to make an internal promotion, Reuters reported, citing two people with knowledge of the matter. Sainsbury's declined to comment, the report added.
* Endeavour Drinks, a unit of Australia's Woolworths Group Ltd., acquired a majority interest in drinks retailer Shorty's Liquor for an undisclosed amount. Endeavour Drinks, which is merging with another Woolworths unit, ALH Group Pty. Ltd., will help expand Shorty's Liquor's presence in Melbourne, Brisbane and other capital cities over the coming years.
* South Korean convenience store owners will no longer employ a 24-hour business model as profits suffer from minimum wage hikes and required late-night pay rates, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. GS Retail, BGF Retail Co. Ltd. and Lotte Group now allow franchisees to close shops at night if their profits for late-night hours dwindle for three consecutive months, the report added.
* Coca-Cola Co. is looking to make China its biggest market by foraying into traditional Chinese medicine, dairy and more business opportunities, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a statement made by Curt Ferguson, president of Coca-Cola China, Korea and Mongolia. The soft-drinks and snacks company operates 45 plants and employs 47,000 workers in the country, the report said.
TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS
* Chinese e-cigarette maker RELX Technology said it is looking to spend 500 million yuan to build 10,000 stores globally over the next three years. The startup said it holds over 60% of China's e-cigarette market share and operates over 1,400 stores in 300 Chinese cities.
* Meat producer JBS SA invested 70 million Brazilian reais for its 37th beef plant in Brazil to meet local demand, Renato Costa, CEO of the group's beef division Friboi, told Reuters.
* Chinese food-tech company Zhenmeat started offering plant-based ground-pork-style faux meat in the country, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Zhenmeat has reportedly ramped up its investment in research and development to make its products as close to real meat as possible.
* Nestlé SA's Australian unit is recalling some batches of Uncle Tobys Foods Pty. Ltd.-branded snacks over the possible presence of metal fragments, according to a recall notice from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
* Milk producer Wattle Health Australia Ltd. said it reached a deal with Hong Kong-based Mason Group Holdings Ltd. for the previously announced acquisition of infant-dairy-products maker Blend and Pack Pty. Ltd. Under the amended deal, Wattle Health will pay Mason upfront cash of US$10 million, issue US$15 million worth of fully paid ordinary shares in Wattle Health at an issue price of 40 Australian cents apiece, and make a deferred payment of US$30 million over a five-year period with an interest rate of 3.33%.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 1.11% to 28,954.94.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.23% to 7,605.06, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.04% to 1,156.90.
On the macro front
The Treasury budget 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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