An American activist investor has taken a 3.4% position in Whitbread, prompting speculation that it will press for a break-up of the Premier Inn and Costa Coffee operator, The Times writes.

Italy’s antitrust agency said on Wednesday it had fined Unilever’s Italian unit more than €60m (£53m) for abusing its dominant position in the country’s ice cream market, The Telegraph reports. It said Unilever had abused its position in single-wrapped so-called impulse ice creams, intended for immediate consumption, which it sells through its “Algida” brand.

The chief executive of Poundland’s owner has quit amid claims of accounting irregularities, wiping two thirds off the company’s value, The Times writes. Steinhoff International’s shares slumped to an eight-year low after the company confirmed the departure of Markus Jooste, who has spent two decades in charge of the retailer. German prosecutors say they are investigating whether Steinhoff International inflated its revenue and book value, one day after the global home retailer announced that its longtime chief executive had quit, The Financial Times adds.

Hammerson is set to become the UK’s largest listed property company after proposing a £3.4bn takeover deal for rival Intu (The Telegraph). The deal by the owner of Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre highlights the increasingly tough retail environment, The Guardian writes. The Times reports criticism of the transaction by property analysts, with one calling it a “‘stupid deal”. The move sent the shopping centre owner’s share price tumbling and was immediately questioned by investors and critics. A separate analysis of the merger in The Times says ‘Buyer beware: deal of day between Hammerson and Intu fails to convince’.

Child obesity campaigners have created a row over a new report’s lack of teeth, The Guardian reports. The Centre for Social Justice is accused of omitting key recommendations to the benefit of the food industry over the health of youngsters.

A series of special reports in The Financial Times this morning examine the future of the food industry. One article looks at how retailers, distributors and growers are struggling to curb food waste, with about one-third of the world’s food wasted on the journey from ‘farm to fork’. Another says the sale of modified salmon has opened the flood gates for human consumption of GM animals. Scientists see role for insects and ‘orphan crops’ in human diet as beetles and caterpillars join forgotten foods to replace an over-reliance on staples, the paper adds. Manufacturers have responded to health edicts in food and drink recipes as more governments are introducing rules to drive down use of sugar, salt and fat, another in the series writes.