X5 takeover talk is 'groundless'
Moscow: X5 Retail Group has denied reports it is in talks with Tesco, Wal-Mart and Carrefour over a possible takeover. Reports in the Russian press have suggested the chains were eyeing X5, Russia's largest food retailer. Lev Khasis, group CEO of X5, dismissed the reports as "groundless", though he admitted the group would not rule out potential partnerships with the chains. "The company and its major shareholders do not intend to sell the business in a medium-term perspective and are focused on the realisation of a five-year strategy for the group's development in the Russian market," he added.

Reliance estate reaches 49
New Dehli: Reliance Retail has opened nine stores in India's National Capital Region. The stores are situated in Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Gurgaon and bring Reliance's estate to 49 stores. The chain has invested Rs8bn (£92.2m) in the stores and plans to open up to 100 in the region by April. It also plans to operate as many as 4,000 stores in India by 2010.

Albertsons to shut 20 outlets
Boise, Idaho: Albertsons, the grocery chain acquired by Supervalu in June last year, has announced plans to close 20 unprofitable stores with the loss of 1,520 jobs. It has earmarked for closure nine stores in Colorado and 11 stores in Texas. All the stores are expected to close by mid-March.

Danone snaps up rest of jv shares
Paris: Danone has acquired all the remaining shares in its Japanese joint venture Calpis Ajinomoto Danone (CAD). The group held a 50% share in the venture, with Ajinomoto owning 20% and Calpis 30%. CAD will now operate under the name Danone Japan, but Ajinomoto will remain the distributor for all Danone Japan's fresh dairy products in the country, as well as providing various food raw materials for the business. "The acquisition is part of Danone's strategy to increase its position in the Asian dairy market," said Bernard Hours, executive vice president of fresh dairy products at Danone.

Corn and wheat prices hit Kellogg
Battle Creek, Michigan: Kellogg has reported a 2% increase in full-year net profit to $1bn on sales up 7% at $10.9bn. But fourth-quarter profit fell from $192.4m to $182.4m due to higher corn and wheat prices and advertising spend. In its international business, full-year sales growth was 6%, with growth of 5% in Europe.

Hershey links with Lotte in China
Hershey, Pennsylvania: Hershey has teamed up with Korean confectionery and ice cream manufacturer Lotte Confectionery in a joint manufacturing venture in China. The facility in Jinshan, near Shanghai, will make a variety of Hershey's, Hershey's Kisses and Reese's products and will enable Hershey to expand its business within China and beyond. "Working with Lotte, we'll be able to produce affordable products in the right flavours and formats for the local Chinese market, as well as regional Asian markets," said JP Bilbrey, senior vice president and president international commercial group.