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Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods swap store locations

BY Allison Cerra

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two North Carolina-based grocery stores have announced a purchase and sale agreement.

Harris Teeter will acquire 10 of the Lowes Foods’ store locations in the central Carolinas region, while Lowes Foods will acquire six Harris Teeter store locations in western North Carolina. In addition to six of its stores being acquired by Lowes Foods, Harris Teeter said it also will pay the latter $26.5 million. The transaction is expected to be completed in the company’s third quarter of fiscal 2012, which ends July 1.

"This transaction aligns with our strategic plans to replace rural store locations with more urban locations with higher density of our target demographic groups," Harris Teeter board chairman and CEO Thomas Dickson said. "It provides us with the opportunity to explore in selected locations an innovative format that we think our customers will find exciting."

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Human Genome Sciences rejects GSK’s bid

BY Allison Cerra

ROCKVILLE, Md. — One month after GlaxoSmithKline announced its tender offer to acquire Human Genome Sciences, HGS said Friday that its board of directors has rejected the unsolicited bid.

As previously reported, GSK in May said it commenced its previously announced tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Human Genome Sciences for $13 per share in cash, a premium of 81% to HGS’s closing share price of $7.17 per share on April 18, the last trading day before HGS publicly disclosed GSK’s private offer. Since then, HGS had said the unsolicited offer was inadequate; however, the waiting period the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976 had expired Friday, giving GSK the green light to acquire the drug maker.

"The HGS board of directors has rejected GSK’s unsolicited $13 per share offer, after concluding unanimously that the GSK offer is inadequate, does not reflect the value inherent in HGS and is not in the best interests of our stockholders," HGS said in a release. "We announced on April 19 that our board has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives in the best interests of stockholders, including a potential sale of the Company. This process continues to be active and fully underway. We invited GSK to participate in this process, but GSK declined and instead commenced its unsolicited tender offer, which seeks to circumvent, disrupt and prematurely end our strategic review process to the disadvantage of HGS stockholders. We are committed to completing this process as expeditiously as possible. The HGS Board of Directors recommends that HGS stockholders reject GSK’s tender offer and not tender any of their shares to GSK."

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Former Pfizer executive to lead WebMD as CEO

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — WebMD has tapped Pfizer’s group president of animal health, consumer health care and corporate strategy to serve as its new chief executive.

Cavan Redmond was appointed CEO of WebMD, as well as a member of the company’s board of directors on Thursday. He brings to his new role more than 20 years of healthcare experience, encompassing a broad range of global healthcare businesses, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, consumer health care and infant nutritionals.

"Cavan brings unparalleled expertise and leadership in both biopharmaceutical and consumer health care to WebMD, and we are excited to welcome him to the WebMD team," WebMD chairman Martin Wygod said. "He has a successful track record in identifying and leveraging new revenue opportunities, driving efficiency and establishing sustainable growth platforms. Along with our experienced management team, I have great confidence that Cavan will take WebMD to the next level. Cavan’s proven ability to drive strategy and leverage the value of brands will be invaluable as WebMD continues to define and lead the market for digital health information."

In related news, WebMD’s CFO, Anthony Vuolo, who has also served as interim CEO since January 2012 while the board of directors conducted a search for a permanent CEO, will continue in the position of finance chief, the company said.

"WebMD is driving innovation in the rapidly changing healthcare market with its industry leading proprietary products and services for consumers, physicians and healthcare companies," Redmond said. "As the biopharmaceutical commercial model continues to evolve, WebMD can capitalize on these changes. WebMD’s digital reach to consumers and physicians is an important part of the industry’s communications infrastructure and as the healthcare industry undergoes significant changes, there is tremendous opportunity for WebMD to better enable patients and physicians to engage with one another. I look forward to working with WebMD’s management team and employees, as well as the board of directors, to deliver innovation to our users and value for our customers and shareholders."

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