10 things you need to know in markets today

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.

1. Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest supermarket, and Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, are in advanced talks about a tie-up that would create ‎a more powerful rival to UK market leader Tesco. Two companies are in negotiations about combining Walmart’s Asda business in the UK with Sainsbury’s.

2. The boards of T-Mobile and Sprint have put the finishing touches on a massive merger agreement that values the combined company at $US146 billion. T-Mobile USA chief executive officer John Legere made the announcement by tweeting a seven-minute video breaking down the merger, also including a link to a website further explaining the combination.

3. Telecom Italia CEO Amos Genish said his position at Italy’s biggest phone group would be “untenable” if activist fund Elliott manages to win the majority of board seats at a shareholder vote. Elliott has built a stake of 9% in the former state phone monopoly.

4. Voters in London are expected to punish Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party at local government elections this week. It could embolden critics of her Brexit strategy, but is not expected to trigger her downfall.

5. Most Swiss support the government’s plan to forge a new treaty with the European Union, a poll published on Sunday showed. It would have arbitration panels to help settle disputes.

6. Saudi Aramco has appointed three new members to its board including a woman executive.Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan and Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed al-Tuwaijri were named as members of the Aramco board of directors.

7. China’s securities regulator eased some restrictions on foreign ownership of joint-ventures. The regulator also launched an application process for more foreign ownership.

8. Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan unofficially kicked off his re-election campaign, vowing to defeat the secularist opposition in “historic” snap elections that he has called for June. Although yet to formally declare his candidacy, Erdogan held what was effectively his first campaign rally in the coastal city of Izmir.

9. Russia is close to drawing up a draft law to raise the pension age, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.Policymakers see raising the pension age – currently 55 for women and 60 for men – as a way of spurring faster growth at a time when Western sanctions are a drag on the economy.

10. A European Commission plan to tax the digital turnover of large companies drew scepticism.The criticism came at the first meeting of EU ministers to discuss the plan, which was presented by the Commission last month and entails a 3% levy on the digital revenues of large multinational corporations such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

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