* Online food ordering and delivery service Delivery Hero SE agreed to buy South Korea's Woowa Brothers Corp. for €3.6 billion as the German company seeks to expand in the fast-growing Asian market. Under the terms of the deal, Delivery Hero is expected pay a U.S.-dollar equivalent of €1.7 billion in cash and €1.9 billion in shares for 100% ownership of the food delivery app operator. At the close of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of 2020, Delivery Hero will own up to 88% of the share capital of Woowa with the remaining 12% to be held by Woowa management and exchanged over a four-year period.
* Constellation Brands Inc. said it will revise the terms of its previously announced $1.7 billion wine and spirits deal with E. & J. Gallo Winery Inc. to address competitive concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Under the revised transaction terms, Constellation Brands will not sell its Cook's California Champagne, J. Roget American Champagne and Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy brands to E. & J. Gallo, lowering the deal price to $1.1 billion. Separately, Constellation Brands will sell its New Zealand-based Nobilo Wine brand and related assets to E. & J. Gallo for $130 million.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* Costco Wholesale Corp. reported that diluted EPS for its fiscal first quarter rose to $1.90 from $1.73 in the year-ago period. Comparable sales rose 4.3%, while net sales grew 5.6% year over year to $36.24 billion, excluding annual membership fees. Separately, produce from Costco's first greenhouse is headed for its stores, CFO Richard Galanti said during the wholesaler's fiscal first-quarter earnings call. The greenhouse, located in California, could be the first of multiple operations for growing fresh produce, Galanti said.
* The Kroger Co. said it appointed former Macy's Inc. CFO Karen Hoguet to its board of directors.
* Grocer Albertsons Cos. Inc. expanded its partnership with Takeoff Technologies Inc. to ramp up work on grocery micro-fulfillment centers in a bid to drive growth in the e-commerce order fulfillment space. Under the deal, Albertsons agreed to purchase additional micro-fulfillment centers from Takeoff.
* Empire Co. Ltd., owner of grocer Sobeys, said its fiscal second-quarter adjusted diluted EPS was 58 Canadian cents, up from 40 cents in the year-ago period.
* Andy Dunn, co-founder of Walmart Inc.-owned men's clothing startup Bonobos Inc., is leaving the retail company in early 2020. Dunn disclosed the move in a letter published on employment-oriented platform LinkedIn, without stating the reason for his departure.
* PepsiCo Inc. said it will launch a new drink that combines coffee and cola starting 2020 in the U.S. The drink, called Pepsi Café, will have double the amount of caffeine than a regular Pepsi cola.
TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS
* Illinois has sued Juul Labs Inc. for allegedly targeting minors in its marketing practices and misrepresenting the dangers of its products. The office of Attorney General Kwame Raoul said it is part of the state's approach to addressing "a public health epidemic."
* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it is unlikely a single brand of THC-containing products is responsible for the recent outbreak of serious lung injuries associated with e-cigarette and vaping products. As of Dec. 10, 2,409 vaping-related lung injury cases were reported to the CDC from all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There were 52 deaths confirmed in 26 states and Washington, D.C.
* Health authorities in South Korea have found that some liquid e-cigarette products made by Juul Labs Inc. and KT&G Corp. contain vitamin E acetate, an ingredient that may be linked to lung illnesses, Reuters reported, citing the country's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. The South Korean office of Juul Labs denied the presence of the ingredient in question in its products and said it would "actively communicate" with the relevant ministries, while KT&G said it had never used the substance as an ingredient and its own tests had found no presence of it, Reuters added.
* The Kraft Heinz Co., through its venture fund Evolv Ventures, led a $12 million funding round for tech startup Zippin, which enables cashierless checkout for physical stores. The latest round brings Zippin's total funding to $15 million.
* Mexico's Grupo Lala SAV de CV said CEO Mauricio Leyva will step down from his role, effective Dec. 31. The company has begun a search process for a new CEO. Grupo Lala's announcement follows a report by the Financial Times saying Leyva will leave the company to join privately held JAB Holding Co. SARL as a senior adviser, helping the German investment group on its expanding consumer portfolio.
* Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig Global Foods SA said beef prices in Brazil will remain high in 2020 due to the strong demand from China and other Asian markets, Reuters reported, citing a statement from Marfrig CFO Marco Spada.
* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a new outbreak of E. coli infections in the U.S. and Canada, with data that indicates Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp salads as a likely source of this outbreak. To date, there have been eight cases in three U.S. states and 16 cases in Canada.
* The National Labor Relations Board has approved McDonald's Corp.'s proposed settlement to resolve complaints against the fast-food restaurant chain's U.S. unit, its Illinois arm and 29 franchisees for alleged unfair labor practices. The labor board ruled that the settlement agreements "are reasonable, that they provide a full remedy to all affected employees."
* U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to delay the next round of fresh tariffs on nearly $160 billion of Chinese goods, originally scheduled to take effect Dec. 15, after China pledged $50 billion in farm purchases next year, Bloomberg News and Reuters reported, citing sources.
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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 inched up 2.57% to 27,687.76, and the Nikkei 225 rose 2.55% to 24,023.10.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 1.84% to 7,406.99, and the Euronext 100 increased 1.11% to 1,138.63.
On the macro front
The retail sales report, the import and export prices, the business inventories report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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