LI & FUNG NEARING DEAL: Consumer goods exporter Li & Fung said that it is nearing a licensing deal with Levi Strauss to design, manufacture and market clothes for Levi’s Signature line in the U.S. The deal would allow Li & Fung’s U.S. subsidiary, Millwork Trading, to design and distribute Signature products, which will be sold at discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores. The deal would be effective for the fall 2004 season.

News of the proposed licensing agreement came after Li & Fung posted a 22 percent rise in first-half net profit to $53.1 million, or $414 million Hong Kong dollars, compared with the year-earlier period. The company said in a press release that it expects to see double-digit growth in sales for the second half. —David Hall

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