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Qatar diverted two U.K.-bound LNG tankers from Egypt's Suez Canal last week, highlighting the potential for disruption of vital energy arteries due to a widening rift between the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and its neighbors. Conflicting restrictions on Qatari oil and gas shipments have sown confusion among Middle East energy traders and goosed British natural gas prices, which jumped 4% Thursday, WSJ's Costas Paris, Summer Said and Sarah McFarlane write. After a Saudi-led group of Arab countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and ships carrying its fuel lost access to many ports and fuel stations in the region. Egypt hasn't blocked Qatar's access to the Suez Canal, which gets millions of dollars in transit fees from Qatari LNG ships. But one of the diverted ships' masters didn't feel there was "definitive clearance" given the escalating tensions. One trader said the diversion may have been meant as a message to Egypt: "It is Qatar flexing their muscles."
The European Union is intensifying its scrutiny of Qualcomm Inc. , this time over concerns that its bid to acquire the world's largest developer of chips for automobiles could hurt semiconductor industry competition. Qualcomm agreed to buy Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors NV for $39 billion in October, an acquisition that would make it one of the top suppliers of chips used in cars. Now it faces an in-depth probe by the EU's antitrust regulator, which says the deal could allow the company to exclude rival suppliers or remove competition in the booming market for chips in the automotive sector, WSJ's Natalia Drozdiak reports. The deal comes as manufacturers are building cars with greater computer power and as self-driving models are in the development pipeline. Qualcomm is the largest supplier of chips for mobile devices and is already being investigated in Europe for alleged breaches of antitrust rules in other areas. Qualcomm still expects the NXP deal, which has won U.S. antitrust approval, to close by the end of the year.
Europe's largest retailer, Carrefour SA, is tapping a chief executive with a strong digital track record as it seeks to close its e-commerce gap. The brick-and-mortar behemoth, which has struggled to compete with online retailers and smaller shops, named Alexandre Bompard of the books, music and electronics retailer Fnac Darty as its next leader, WSJ's Nick Kostov writes. Mr. Bompard is credited with turning around the former Groupe Fnanc SA's online operations, retooling its website and mobile app, matching prices of competitors like Amazon.com Inc. and using data mining to target customers. Last year he won a bidding war for white-goods retailer Darty to build scale and better compete with large e-commerce companies. Mr. Bompard also persuaded vendors like Samsung and Apple Inc. to set up branded shop areas in stores. At Carrefour, his challenges include a store format known as the hypermarket--sprawling warehouses that sell everything from baguettes to bicycles--that has lost market share as consumers move online.
SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGIES
A corruption scandal engulfing the world's largest meatpacker Is triggering a backlash from business partners, including some whose codes of conduct extend to their suppliers. The holding company of Brazilian meat giant JBS SA agreed last month to pay a record-setting penalty after admitting to bribing politicians. Now a slew of Brazilian supermarkets and restaurants are backing away from JBS products, WSJ's Paul Kiernan and Luciana Magalhaes write, as public companies with ethics policies that also apply to suppliers weigh their options. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and McDonald's Corp. say they are monitoring the investigations closely, while French supermarket chain Carrefour SA seeks "clarifications" regarding JBS. The Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão, which has branches in the U.S., said it has stopped buying JBS products in Brazil "out of respect for our clients." The Subway sandwich-shop chain says it is considering changing suppliers, and Domino's Pizza Brasil said it would no longer use JBS products at its 184 shops.
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IN OTHER NEWS
Sears Holdings Corp. is suing another Craftsman tools supplier as the struggling retailer tries to keep vendors from abandoning the company. (WSJ)
President Donald Trump announced the creation of two government offices intended to speed work on transportation and infrastructure projects. (WSJ)
Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc. plans to enter new developing markets this year. (WSJ)
A measure of continuing U.S. unemployment fell last week to its lowest level in 43 years. (WSJ)
The pound slumped after the surprise election result that cost Britain's ruling Conservative Party its parliamentary majority. (WSJ)
Hudson's Bay Co. is cutting 2,000 jobs as the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor restructures amid deepening distress in the retail sector. (WSJ)
U.S. trade officials are continuing a probe into Canadian jet sales that has put a big Boeing Co. defense sale in jeopardy. (WSJ)
Dollar Tree Inc. is suing private-equity firm Sycamore Partners over a soured deal that the retailer alleged cost it millions. (WSJ)
SoftBank Group Corp. is buying two advanced robotics pioneers, Boston Dynamics and Schaft, from Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (WSJ)
Philadelphia's Philly Shipyard says it is "in advanced discussions" with a shipping operator to build container ships for a new cargo line that would sail between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
A federal judge ruled in a CSX Corp. lawsuit that local governments cannot fine freight railroads for blocking roads with their trains. (Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum)
Federal highway regulators announced streamlined regulations to make it easier for prospective truck drivers to obtain a commercial driver's license. (American Shipper)
Amazon.com Inc. is planning its third Connecticut facility, a fulfillment center in North Haven that will create more than 1,500 jobs. (Hartford Courant)
Jennifer Smith is a reporter for of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow her at @jensmithWSJ, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin, @PaulPage, and @EEPhillips_WSJ and follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Jennifer Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 12, 2017 06:46 ET (10:46 GMT)