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S&P rating of CVS unchanged in wake of Walgreens offer

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has stated that Walgreens’ competing offer for Longs Drug Stores has no effect on its CVS Caremark ratings.

As reported by Drug Store News, Walgreens has stepped forward with an unsolicited bid to buy Longs Drug Stores Corp. for nearly $3 billion in cash and debt assumption. The bid—announced late Friday evening—scrambles a takeover agreement Longs had already approved with CVS.

Longs agreed Aug. 12 to a $2.61 billion purchase offer from CVS. Walgreens’ bid amounts to $75 per share in cash for Longs, which the company said “represents a $3.50 per share premium over the cash purchase price to be paid to Longs shareholders under the proposed acquisition by CVS/Caremark.”

CVS has extended the expiration for its tender offer to purchase Longs to Oct. 15, and the purchase price remains at $2.9 billion, including the assumption of debt.

“Although it is uncertain whether CVS will make a revised offer for Longs, an upsized offer funded with incremental debt that results in total debt to EBITDA increasing to pro forma debt leverage of over 3.4x from 3.2x currently could result in an outlook revision to negative,” stated S&P. “However, this would require a significant amount of additional debt and we do not view this as likely.”

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Winn-Dixie lets customers make donations for hurricane victims

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores on Monday announced that customers can help their neighbors affected by the 2008 hurricane season by donating at any neighborhood Winn-Dixie.

“Our neighbors face a long and difficult recovery process, and we want to do everything we can to help them,” stated Terry Grooms Derreberry, Winn-Dixie manager of corporate giving. “Our hearts go out to those who were impacted by these storms.”

Winn-Dixie is implementing its “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” program in all of its 521 stores as a way to assist the American Red Cross, which has seen its Disaster Relief Fund depleted after an active year of disasters, the company stated.

Winn-Dixie customers will find “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” donation sheets available at all registers, where they can donate an amount between 50 cents and $500 directly to the American Red Cross. The cashier will scan the Neighbors Helping Neighbors donation sheet, which automatically adds the amount designated by the customer to the total bill.

The Red Cross provided food, shelter, counseling and other assistance to the communities affected by the storms that battered Florida and the Gulf Coast during the past month. Similar efforts across the country have forced the Red Cross to launch a national drive to raise $100 million to keep the Disaster Relief Fund afloat.

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CVS’ Ryan to lead search for URI president

BY Antoinette Alexander

PROVIDENCE, R.I. CVS Caremark chairman, president and chief executive officer, Tom Ryan, will lead the search for the next president of the University of Rhode Island.

According to local news reports, Robert Carothers, president of URI, announced on Monday that he will step down at the end of the current school year after 18 years of service.

Ryan, a URI alumnus, will head the search committee to select the next URI president. An initial list of candidates is expected to be handed to the search committee at the beginning of 2009, with a final decision expected from the Board of Governors at its meeting in May or June.

According to reports, the search committee includes, besides Ryan, R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education members Thomas Rockett, Brenda Dann-Messier and Daniel J. Ryan; Frank Annunziato, executive director of the URI chapter of the American Association of University Professors; Wendy Roworth, art professor; Celest Martin, associate professor in the writing program and chairwoman of the URI Faculty Senate; and Jim Miller, an ocean engineering professor. Also sitting on the committee are Brandon Brown, a student representative; Winifred Brownell, URI dean of arts and sciences; Thorr Bjorn, athletic director; Domingo Morel, academic adviser for URI’s talent development program; Michael Fascitelli, a URI alumnus; and Saul Kaplan, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

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