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US, France agree to stop tariff threats; VF to launch review of work unit

TOP NEWS

* U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to back down on threats to impose reciprocal punitive tariffs in 2020 in connection with a dispute over digital taxes, Reuters reported, citing a French diplomatic source. Trump and Macron reportedly agreed to allow negotiations to continue at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development until the end of the year.

* Apparel retailer V.F. Corp. will launch a strategic review of its work business as it gears toward optimizing its portfolio. The segment, which is mainly based in the U.S., consists of nine brands, including Red Kap, Terra and Horace Small, and represented approximately $865 million of the company's fiscal 2019 revenue. "Divesting these brands would leave VF with a simplified portfolio of higher-growth, consumer-focused brands, while providing financial flexibility to fuel further strategic initiatives and enhance shareholder value," Chairman, President and CEO Steve Rendle said.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton SE appointed Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, former global brand president for L'Oréal SA's Paris arm, as an executive for its menswear division, effective Feb. 1, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing an internal memo. Angeloglou has been with LVMH since June 2019, serving as the company's strategic missions director for fashion and leather goods. In his new role, Angeloglou reportedly will lead the luxury goods retailer's "men's leather goods and travel, as well as men's ready-to-wear, and will have a cross-entity role for the men's category [except for perfumes]."

* Agent Provocateur named Michelle Ryan, who was previously buying and supply chain director for footwear company Kurt Geiger, as its CEO, Women's Wear Daily reported. Ryan reportedly will focus on developing new "product concepts" to support the British lingerie brand's plans to expand globally, improve customer experience and drive growth.

* Pandora A/S will establish a business unit dedicated to its digital operations at its Copenhagen headquarters. The new subsidiary, which will begin operations in April 2020, will focus on the Danish company's digital presence, omnichannel expertise and its use of data to drive customer growth. The maker of finished and contemporary jewelry will hire about 80 employees within the year for the business unit, with plans of expanding further in 2021.

* Hugo Boss AG said fourth-quarter 2019 sales rose 5% year over year, or 4% in currency-adjusted terms, to €825 million, mainly driven by the German luxury fashion house's sales momentum in Europe. EBIT grew 9% to €122 million on a preliminary basis during the quarter. For the full year, the group expects EBIT to decrease 4% year over year to €333 million.

* U.S. prosecutors dropped the assault case against Arcadia Group Ltd. Chairman Philip Green, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Green, who was charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault after a pilates instructor in Arizona accused him of inappropriately touching her in 2016 and 2018, reportedly denied the allegations. "These matters are now closed," the owner of brands Topshop and Miss Selfridge told the news agency.

* Private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC hired Rothschild & Co. to advise on options for its Reiss fashion brand, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. One of the sources reportedly said the process is in its early stages, but a sale could be a more likely outcome than an IPO given the U.K.'s general trading environment. Reiss, Warburg Pincus and Rothschild all declined to comment, the newspaper added.

* Anya Hindmarch bought back half of her namesake brand after the Marandi family acquired the fashion retailer in 2019, The Telegraph reported, citing Companies House filings. Hindmarch reportedly now holds 50% to 75% of the company's shares, giving her a 50% stake in the business. A spokesman for the fashion company declined to comment, the report added.

* Joules Group PLC reported that underlying pretax profit for the 26 weeks ended Nov. 24, 2019, declined to £9.7 million from £10.7 million a year ago. Statutory pretax profit fell to £1.7 million from £9.3 million in the same period in 2018, driven by a £6.7 million noncash impairment charge from stores, head office premises and changes in distribution arrangements. Group revenue decreased by 1.4% year over year to £111.6 million due to the timing of the Black Friday trading period.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* British department store chain Beales has appointed KPMG as administrators, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk, the Financial Times reported. The move reportedly comes after Beales had disappointing holiday sales in 2019.

* Shares of Lotte Corp., holding business of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, jumped as much as 20% on Jan. 20 after it announced that founder Shin Kyuk-ho died Jan. 19 at the age of 98, the Financial Times reported. Shin's death reportedly raised hopes of reforms at the group.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc. is developing a system that allows customers to pay with their palms by linking their credit card information to their hands, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. The report comes shortly after the e-commerce company filed a patent for a "noncontact biometric identification system" and "a hand scanner that generates images of a user's palm." Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market intelligence.

HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* Beauty company Coty Inc. named Kristin Blazewicz as chief legal officer, general counsel and board secretary, and executive committee member, effective March 15.

* Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC appointed InterContinental Hotels Group PLC's Ranjay Radhakrishnan as chief human resources officer and executive committee member, effective March 1, replacing Gurveen Singh, who decided to retire. Chief supply officer Mike Duijser will also leave the British consumer goods retailer for personal reasons. Frederick Dutrenit, senior vice president of manufacturing health, will cover Duijser's position in the interim.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA said Vesa Equity Investment Sarl increased its shareholding in the company to 5.64%, months after the private equity firm, owned by investors Daniel Křetínský and Patrik Tkáč, disclosed a 4.63% stake in the French retailer.

* Aldi's British arm plans to hire more than 3,800 shop staff in 2020 with increased pay as part of its expansion in the U.K., Reuters reported. The grocer reportedly will raise its minimum hourly rate on Feb. 1 to £9.40 from £9.10. Those working at stores along London's M25 road will see their pay increase to £10.90 from £10.55, the report added.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Walmart Inc. named Scott McCall to succeed Steve Bratspies as chief merchant, CNBC reported, citing an internal company memo. It also appointed Lance de la Rosa as COO of its Sam's Club business, replacing Dacona Smith, who will step in as COO of Walmart U.S. All of the changes are effective Feb. 1, the report said.

* Supermarket operator Carrefour SA acquired Lyon-based Potager City, a startup involved in the subscription-based distribution of fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, for an undisclosed sum.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Dixons Carphone PLC's shares rose more than 5% in London after it reported that group revenue for the 10 weeks to Jan. 4 rose 2% year over year, with flat like-for-like growth.

HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES

* Sidra Capital, representing wealthy Saudi Arabian families, is in talks with David and Frederick Barclay to buy the Ritz London hotel, according to the Financial Times, citing people close to the discussions. A person in charge of another potential bidder told the newspaper that the Barclay brothers wanted offers for the hotel property to surpass £750 million. The Barclay brothers and Sidra declined to comment, the report added.

EDUCATION SERVICES

* TAL Education Group's third-quarter 2020 non-GAAP diluted net income fell 61.4% to 9 cents per American depositary share from 24 cents in the year-ago period, missing the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized estimate of 17 cents. Net revenues rose 47.2% year over year to $862.4 million from $586 million, driven by increased student enrollments. The company also announced that President Yunfeng Bai will become chairman of its board, effective Jan. 21, replacing CEO Bangxin Zhang, who will continue as a director, while COO Yachao Liu will step down as a director. All three will continue in their executive roles. Shares of the Chinese company fell more than 9% on Jan. 21 following the announcement.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* U.K. retail sales volume registered an unexpected third consecutive monthly decline in December 2019, adding to the recent weak economic data that fueled expectations of an interest rate cut by the Bank of England ahead of its upcoming monetary policy meeting. Retail sales fell 0.6% month over month in December 2019, following a revised 0.8% fall in the previous month, data from the Office for National Statistics showed.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 2.81% to 27,985.33, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.91% to 23,864.56.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.00% to 7,574.58, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.03% to 1,159.19.

On the macro front

No reports 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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