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The global food industry is set to be reshaped by three politically-charged mega mergers. ChemChina’s purchase of Syngenta and the merger of Dow Chemical and Dupont are heading towards European antitrust approval. Dow DuPont’s $140bn merger is on track for approval in March, while anti-competition concerns over the ChemChina deal appear to have been allayed.

The third agri-deal, Bayer’s $66bn purchase of Monsanto, is also being scrutinised. It will start its European approval process before the summer and the US Department of Justice and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, Cfius, are both considering the deal. The three deals are together worth nearly $250bn. (FT)

In the news

Good news for Abe and BoJ For the first time since 2015 core inflation has returned to Japan, which has struggled to escape from two decades of on-and-off deflation since Mr Abe’s rise to power in 2012. The return to positive territory was driven by energy but it will be welcome news for the Bank of Japan. (FT)

Snapped up Shares in the company behind Snapchat soared 44 per cent on their market debut despite questions about corporate governance and profitability, valuing the group at nearly $30bn. The big question now is: will it turn into a Facebook-esque empire, or be considered overvalued like Twitter? (FT, Economist)

UK opts out The British government failed to join other donors in pledging millions of dollars to an international fund aimed at filling the gap left by Donald Trump’s reimposition of the “global gag rule”, which bans US aid to foreign companies that provide or advocate abortion. Countries announced pledges worth €181m, while Britain’s minister presented existing spending commitments at the talks. (Guardian)

Retaking Palmyra (again) Russian-backed Syrian regime troops have retaken the ancient city of Palmyra from Isis for the second time in a year. The jihadi group is on the back foot in Syria and has lost territory to an alliance of US-backed Kurdish militias and to rebel groups. (Jazeera)

Washington’s Russia ‘witch hunt’ US attorney-general Jeff Sessions said he would recuse himself from investigations into whether Moscow interfered in the US election. Here’s a timeline of Donald Trump’s Russia problem, and the FT’s Edward Luce on how the president just can’t seem to shake the Russian shadow. Mr Trump let off a late-night Twitter storm in response to what he said was a “witch hunt”. (FT, Telegraph)

Revolution comes full circle Six years after he was overthrown in a show of people power that spawned uprisings across the Arab world, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former leader, has been cleared of all charges relating to his 30-year presidency. (Ahram online)

Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. How much did Penguin Random House pay for the rights to books by Barack and Michelle Obama?

It’s a big day for

US interest rates Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is due to speak, and investors will also be able to pore over another batch of employment data. Her speech comes after Fed governor Lael Brainard, one of the bank’s most cautious members, said another rate rise would be “appropriate soon”— making a rate rise in March all but certain. (FT)

Food for thought

Europe’s most dangerous building Britain’s decision to leave the EU threatens to upend a decades-old arrangement for overseeing the world’s largest stockpile of civilian plutonium. Untangling the agreement protecting and regulating the materials will be a “ nightmare” for Whitehall and Brussels officials negotiating Brexit. (FT)

Sweden and conscription Following the end of the cold war and throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Sweden scaled back its military and defence spending dramatically, believing in a more peaceful world. The government’s decision to return to the draft this week shows a “ naivety about what was happening in Russia”, according to the country’s defence minister. Even so, the idea of all-out battle as necessary to winning wars is a myth, this look at history shows. (FT, WSJ)

Single state solution With little to show for decades of negotiating for an end to the Arab-Israel conflict other than the expansion of illegal settlements, young Palestinians say a single Palestinian-Israeli state is already a reality. They say their only hope for an end to occupation is open conflict with Israel or a radical one-state solution in which Palestinians would have equal rights with Israelis across their historic homeland. (FT)

Farmers flock to Le Pen France’s farmers have done very well out of the European Union’s agricultural policies, but in a phonemenon familiar to Britons, they are rushing to support rightwing politician Marine Le Pen, who wants to destroy the union that has treated them so well. Here’s why this year’s French election is the most exciting in living memory and will have consequences far beyond its borders. (Politico, Economist)

Terry Gou’s tightrope The Foxconn chief has begun work on a plant in southern China that will create 15,000 jobs. At the same time, he has hinted that blockbuster plans to invest $7bn in the US may not materialise any time soon. Can the key Apple supplier maintain his balance between the needs of Beijing and an increasingly protectionist Washington? (NAR)

Video of the day

Time for some game theory (about IPOs) Fund managers and traders embark on a subtle game in the lead-up to when a company goes public and once it lists. The FT’s Rob Armstrong and Alan Livsey explore the dark arts of IPO game theory. (FT)

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