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- Thedore Roethke



Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), the home of KFC and Pizza Hut, is falling behind rival McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) as the pair battle to revive flagging sales in China - a headache for Yum as it looks to spin off operations in its biggest market.

China Inc will carry on buying foreign companies with key strategic value despite battling to rein in huge capital outflows, as ChemChina's acquisition of Syngenta (SYNN.VX) shows.

State-owned ChemChina agreed on Wednesday to make a $43 billion bid for the Swiss seeds and pesticides group, the biggest overseas deal by a Chinese firm and equivalent, on its own, to a third of total foreign acquisitions by Chinese companies last year.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts for the third time in less than a year on Tuesday, as new figures from Beijing showed that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.

China is expected to report its weakest quarterly economic growth in nearly seven years on Tuesday, adding pressure on policymakers to take bolder steps to ward off fears of a sharper slowdown that are jolting global financial markets

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has bought U.S. film studio Legendary Entertainment for about $3.5 billion, turning its chairman into a Hollywood movie mogul as China's richest man steps up a drive to diversify his business empire overseas.

At a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin said he plans to package Legendary, behind hits like "Jurassic World", with existing movie production assets in China and sell shares in the merged operation in an initial public offering (IPO).

A book to be published in Hong Kong in the new year says Zhou Enlai, Communist China's much-respected first premier, was probably gay despite his long marriage, and had once been in love with a male schoolmate two years his junior.

It is a contention certain to be controversial in China, where the Communist Party likes to maintain its top leaders are more or less morally irreproachable and where homosexuality is frowned upon, though no longer officially repressed.

On a bustling street in China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen, more than 30 stores carrying Apple Inc's iconic white logos peddle pre-orders for the new iPhone, a gadget that has become a status symbol among many better-off Chinese. 

Many of the stores look just like Apple's signature outlets, right down to the sales staff kitted out in blue T-shirts bearing the company's white logo and the sample iPads and iWatches displayed on sleek wooden tables.

On birthdays and for special treats, Lu Yuanli would take her son to their local KFC for his favorite meal, fried chicken wings, but the Chinese mother hasn't been back since a safety scare battered KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) and rival McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) last year.

Lu is one of a growing number of Chinese parents turning their backs on the U.S. firms, further undermining their efforts to revive growth in a market seen as key to offset slowing global sales but where their food has lost is novelty factor and competition from local alternatives is fierce.

China will likely cut the number of its central government-owned conglomerates to 40 through a series of mergers, as Beijing pushes forward a plan to overhaul the country's underperforming state sector, state media reported on Monday.

Currently, the central government owns 112 conglomerates, including 277 public firms listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges with a market capitalization of more than 10 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion), according to the official newspaper Economic Information Daily.

(Reuters) - China grew at its slowest pace in six years at the start of 2015 and weakness in key sectors suggested the world's second-largest economy was still losing momentum, intensifying Beijing's struggle to find the right policy mix to shore up activity.                                                           

A series of cuts in interest rates, lower reserve ratios at banks and easing measures in the property sector look to have mostly flowed into stock market speculation without delivering much support to fundamentals. Still, the economy's persisting slowdown means more stimulus measures are expected soon.

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