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    Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group agreed Thursday to buy World Triathlon Corp. in a bet China's burgeoning middle class will soon become as enamored with the bruising three-discipline sport as western peers.

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    A Delaware judge on Thursday said David Murdock, the chief executive of Dole Food Co, is liable for $148.2 million of damages for having shortchanged shareholders when he took the fruit producer private in 2013.

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    - Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories , knocking down a report in the Financial Times, denied on Thursday that it was preparing a bid for medical device maker St Jude Medical Inc (STJ) . The FT, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Abbott has been working with advisers for several weeks to line up financing for a $25 billion cash and stock bid for St. Paul, Minnesota-based St...

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    Syngenta (SYT) management faced pressure on Thursday to offer tangible rewards to shareholders after the Swiss pesticides company turned its back on a deal with unwanted American suitor Monsanto (MON) . With no alternative bidder seen on the horizon, analysts speculated that the company could buy back shares as a short-term measure to help win back investor confidence.

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    Shares of NQ Mobile (NQ) were gaining by 39.3% to $4.22 on heavy trading volume on Thursday, after the mobile software company announced agreements to sell its FL Mobile and NationSky businesses.

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    Viterra Inc, the agriculture segment of Glencore PLC (GLCNF), said on Thursday that it agreed to buy Eastern Canada's largest oilseed processing plant from Malaysia's Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd. Felda, the world's third-largest palm plantation operator, said it would sell the TRT-ETGO plant at Bécanour, Quebec to Viterra for C$190 million.

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    Brazilian state-controlled lender Caixa Econômica Federal is inclined to offer fewer shares of its insurance unit in an initial public offering this year should the partnership that helped create the subsidiary be renewed ahead of the deal, two sources with knowledge of the plans said on Thursday.

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    Shares of Abbott Laboratories   are gaining 3.82% to $43.98 in pre-market trading on Thursday, amid a potential takeover bid for St. Jude Medical , Abbott has been working with advisers that might include JP Morgan  and Citi  for several weeks, in order to prepare its finances for a cash and shares offer valued around $25 billion for the medical device maker, The Financial Times reports.

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    New York-based Sycamore Partners got a real bargain when it acquired Belk for $3 billion on Monday. That's because the enterprise value of the department store operator may be closer to $2.87 billion rather than $3 billion.

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    Abbott Laboratories (ABT) has denied reports that it is pursuing a $25 billion bid to buy St. Jude traded sharply higher in premarket trade following a Financial Times report, citing anonymous sources. Jude's shares were up 5% in premarket trade, putting them on track to open around $73. Those of Abbott were up 3.2%.

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    Bulgaria's energy regulator on Thursday approved the power purchasing agreement between U.S. power company ContourGlobal and the Balkan country's public power provider NEK. In July, ContourGlobal and AES agreed to cut the price of electricity they sell to NEK in exchange for the debt-ridden state power provider making nearly 900 million levs in late payments.

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    Jude Medical Inc. shares surged 12% in premarket trade Thursday, after the Financial Times reported that Abbott Laboratories (ABT) is gearing up to make a $25 billion bid for the medical device maker, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is preparing an offer but has not yet put it forward, the paper said. Abbott Labs (ABT) shares were not yet active in premarket trading.

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    Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories is preparing a bid for St Jude Medical Inc (STJ) that would value the medical device maker at about $25 billion, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Abbott has been working with advisers for several weeks to line up financing for a cash and stock offer, the report said.

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    Online gambling company Bwin.party has asked GVC Holdings (GMVHF) to table its best offer for the business after the duo addressed key concerns over the suitor's latest 1 billion pound approach. GVC looked to have lost the race for Bwin after it accepted a 900 million pound cash-and-stock offer from 888 in July, but the Sportingbet owner has since returned with two improved proposals to hijack the deal.

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    The "Ironman" brand has a new owner. Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin has agreed to pay $650 million for World Triathlon Corporation, in the latest expansion of his growing sports empire. The signature Ironman event includes a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run. Wang already owns a stake in Atletico Madrid football club and Infront Sports & Media.

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    (Adds futures prices, company news items) LONDON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - European equity futures rose on Thursday, buoyed by gains on Asian and U.S. markets after a leading U.S. central bank official said the prospect of a September rate hike seemed "less compelling" than before. Futures on the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index and on Germany's DAX both climbed 1.7 percent. Futures on France's CAC rose 1.9 percent while Britain's FTSE 100 futures advanced 1.4 percent. Persistent fears about an economic slowdown in China, which intensified after China devalued its yuan currency earlier in August, have rattled financial markets this month, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index falling nearly 2 percent on Wednesday. However, Wall Street later racked up its biggest one-day gain in four years on Wednesday after New York Fed President William Dudley said the likelihood of a September rate hike "seems less compelling" than it was only weeks ago, in a sign that China's woes could affect U.S. monetary policy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT605 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,940.51 3.9 % 72.9 NIKKEI 18,574.44 1.08 % 197.61 EUR/USD 1.1361 0.41 % 0.0046 USD/JPY 119.86 -0.03 % -0.0400 10-YR US TSY 2.147 -- -0.03 YLD 10-YR BUND YLD 0.725 -- 0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,127.00 0.16 % $1.85 US CRUDE $39.48 2.28 % 0.88 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks take heart from Wall Street rally, China gains > US STOCKS-Wall Street chalks up biggest gain in four years > Nikkei rises as Wall Street gains soothe sentiment > TREASURIES-U.S. long-dated bonds sag as Fed's Dudley downplays Sept rate hike > FOREX-Yen nurses losses as equities rally lifts mood > PRECIOUS-Gold coasts along as stocks perk up, possible Fed hike delay supports > METALS-Copper gains as China stocks rally injects confidence > Brent climbs by over $1 on crude stock draw, U.S. economic data COMPANY NEWS: ABENGOA : The renewable energy firm is negotiating the entry of an Arab fund as a way of propping up its capital, Expansion reported. Separately El Economista reported that Citi and Merrill Lynch want the company to divest, including a potential divestment of Abengoa Yield unit, as a condition to support its capital increase. AIRBUS : European planemaker Airbus is delaying the delivery of Russian carrier Transaero Airline's first A380 superjumbo, an Airbus spokeswoman said on Wednesday, as the recession-hit Russian economy dents travel demand in the region. ALLIANZ : Pimco Group Chief Investment Officer Dan Ivascyn said a Federal Reserve interest rate increase in September is no longer the Newport Beach, California company's base-case scenario. AUTOMAKERS: Ten of the world's biggest automakers were sued on Wednesday by U.S. consumers who claim they concealed the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in more than 5 million vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions, leading to 13 deaths. Separately, Volkswagen said on Wednesday it is considering exporting Russia-produced cars to other countries given the sharp drop in demand there. BOUYGUES : French conglomerate Bouygues raised its full-year core earnings and cost savings targets for its telecom business on Thursday as it posted a 51 percent rise in first-half group current operating profit. DEUTSCHE ANNINGTON, DEUTSCHE WOHNEN : Deutsche Annington aims to have a portfolio that is "balanced across Germany", its Chief Executive Rolf Buch told Handelsblatt in an interview when asked whether he was interested in a merger with rival Deutsche Wohnen , which focuses on the market in and around Berlin. EIFFAGE : France's Eiffage kept its full-year goal for higher earnings and a slight drop in revenue amid a still difficult economic climate in France after a robust concessions business and cost control lifted first-half earnings. GEMALTO : Mobile chip and smart card maker Gemalto said the closure of its U.S. mobile payment service Softcard in the second half would limit its mobile revenue growth as it posted a 33 percent rise in first-half profit from operations. PERNOD : French spirits maker Pernod Ricard reported full-year 2014/15 underlying profit growth of 2 percent on Thursday, slightly below analysts' expectations, thanks to cost cuts and improving cognac sales in China. RTL : European broadcaster RTL raised its full-year revenue outlook on Thursday and said it would pay an extraordinary interim dividend after a strong German TV business and digital growth lifted its second-quarter results above expectations. TOTAL : French oil major Total has agreed to sell some of its gas pipeline assets in the UK's North Sea to North Sea Midstream Partners, an affiliate of U.S.-based private equity firm ArcLight Capital, for 585 million pounds ($907 million). (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)