The UK government’s proposals for an interim deal with the EU, including a possible temporary customs union, to make sure overseas trade with the continent continues smoothly is the main news in the papers this morning. The Guardian writes Britain may have to pay the EU to participate in a temporary customs union after leaving the bloc, according to Brexit secretary David Davis. Companies face greater red tape under the two long-term options set out by the UK for post-Brexit customs arrangements with the EU in a 14-page policy paper on “future customs arrangements”, despite the government’s pledge to achieve the “most frictionless” trade possible with the bloc, The Financial Times says.
Lex says in The Financial Times that Danone needs something to settle its stomach after its $12.5bn WhiteWave acquisition. The column comes after US activist fund Corvex took its stake in the French group up to $400m. “Danone once aimed to convince the world that its special yoghurts could solve a range of digestive problems. These claims were refuted, but the French consumer group could use something to settle its stomach nonetheless. After paying $12.5bn for WhiteWave, a US healthy foods maker, last year, symptoms of financial indigestion have bubbled up. Corvex, a US activist fund, has reportedly taken a $400m stake, no doubt believing it has useful prescriptions. It will find its patient unco-operative.”
Corvex, according to people familiar with the fund’s thinking, is not planning a campaign to shake up management or demand board seats at Danone, which has a market value of €45bn. Rather it wants to improve operations and better position the group in a food industry beset by slowing growth (The Financial Times £).
Meanwhile, institutional investors have sharply increased efforts to shame individual company directors into better behaviour by voting against their re-election, according to new figures. Revolts against single directors of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies rose fivefold this year in protest against them taking too many jobs or to curb egregious pay packages. (The Times £)
Following shrinking Maltesers bags and Toblerones with bigger gaps, Nestlé has announced the “walnot whip”, launching the first nut-free versions of its oldest chocolate brand after the price of the key ingredient surged. The vanilla and caramel versions of the Walnut Whip, a cone of milk chocolate with a fondant filling, will go on sale this week under the Nestlé Whip brand, with a mint variant to follow next month. (The Guardian)
Amazon sealed the year’s fourth-largest corporate bond sale on Tuesday as the technology and online retail group locked in $16bn to fund its takeover of premium grocer Whole Foods. The deal will radically accelerate Amazon’s expansion into the grocery market as it takes advantage of the hundreds of brick-and-mortar Whole Foods locations spread across the country. (The Financial Times £)
The chairman of Diageo has bought more than £1.6million worth of shares in the world’s largest distiller. The private equity specialist Javier Ferran bought 65,000 Diageo shares at 2503p each on Monday. (The Daily Mail)
McDonald’s will place restaurants in residential complexes in China to help with its push in the country after striking a deal with Chinese developer Evergrande (The Financial Times).