Is today the day the Walgreens, Rite Aid deal is approved?
NEW YORK — Is today the day? The much anticipated approval for the Walgreens/Rite Aid merger, through which Walgreens has proposed to pay $9.4 billion for the acquisition of Rite Aid's 4,547 stores in an effort to bolster its national footprint, did not happen by Friday morning as many had speculated.
Now there is a new countdown clock — the deal is set to expire Jan. 27 if not approved before that time.
It turns out DSN readers were right. While four-in-10 thought it would happen before Inauguration Day, there were 59% who believed the decision the Walgreens/Rite Aid deal would not be approved before Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th U.S president. And it's not going to actually happen on Inauguration Day because government offices in the District of Columbia are closed on Friday, FTC officials told DSN.
"[The decision] won’t happen [on Inauguration Day]," confirmed Betsy Lordan, senior public affairs specialist for the Federal Trade Commission in an email to DSN. "More generally, however, we do not confirm or comment on merger investigations until/unless we are announcing legal action such as a complaint or (in some cases) a complaint and proposed settlement."
Breaking down the numbers in DSN's Walgerens/Rite Aid poll, out of the 249 readers who believed the decision would come after Inauguration Day 55.8% still think it's going to happen and 44.2% believe it won't.
Many hold to the belief that a Federal Trade Commission operating under a Republican administration will be "big-business" friendly and therefore more likely to approve the deal. In an early December research note published the week before the announcement that Fred's would acquire 865 divested Rite Aid stores, Leerink managing director David Larsen wrote, "With Trump as President we believe the FTC will be more willing to work with Walgreens Boots Alliance and potential buyers of Rite Aid stores in order to allow the transaction to close."
But that's not necessarily the case, cautioned Scott Mushkin, managing director and senior retail analyst for Wolfe Research, especially given the nonconformist stance President Trump has taken on many issues. "The historical context here doesn't matter because Trump has shown himself to be somewhat anti-merger," he told DSN. "He's going to look at it more on the merit [of the deal]," he said. "While we continue to view the transaction as a major win for Walgreens Boots Alliance shareholders, we also continue to have some doubts that the transaction will be approved."
So what happened? Why wasn't the deal approved before Jan. 20?
Anaylsts who follow Walgreens Boots Alliance speculate that discussion around rationalizing the Rite Aid store base post merger may have given regulators pause. "We were surprised to hear Walgreens Boots Alliance mention that store base rationalization may be a potential post-acquisition strategy given that that acquisition is still undergoing FTC review," commented Barclays analyst Eric Percher. Percher noted, however, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina is still very bullish on the deal. "Management is very confident of FTC approval," Percher wrote, noting that Pessina acknowledged there is no "Plan B" necessarily should the deal fall through.
ShopRite offers free health-and-wellness offerings
KEASBEY, N.J. — ShopRite is introducing a variety of health and wellness offerings for its supermarket customers throughout 2017.
These services include:
Free Eat Well, Be Happy Weight Management Classes — This six-week class teaches portion control, label reading, better-for-you cooking techniques and lifestyle maintenance.
Free Diabetes Classes — Runs throughout the year and features one-hour long sessions focusing on several aspects of diabetes. Held in partnership with ShopRite Pharmacy.
Free In-Store Dietitian Services — ShopRite offers free one-on-one counseling, store tours and year-round events held by its team of over 130 Registered Dietitians.
Free Cholesterol and Diabetes Screenings — ShopRite stores conduct annual free cholesterol and diabetes screenings for customers, the first screening is set to take place in February.
Culinary Workshop Classes — Select ShopRite stores offer monthly culinary workshops for both kids and adults looking to sample new recipes while having fun and learning new cooking techniques taught by professional chefs.
Dates and times of these events vary by store.
“We’re excited to offer these programs to our shoppers, our associates and our local communities,” said Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD, director of ShopRite’s Health and Wellness department. “We want our customers to know that we’re committed to helping them accomplish their individual health and wellness goals, and we’re going to be with them every step of the way.”
The supermarket retailer added it is putting forth this effort to reflect an increasing amount of Americans who say they are committed to leading a healthier lifestyle.
“Our programs are designed to educate, inform and inspire our shoppers to live their best lives,” said Menza-Crowe. “We’ve brought together our team of in-store dietitians, chefs and pharmacists to create a comprehensive assortment of health and wellness services, and we’re proud to offer them to our customers.”
ShopRite, a registered trademark of Wakefern Food, has more than 270 locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland.
Loblaw announces management changes
TORONTO — George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited on Thursday named Galen Weston chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited. Weston will continue in his role as chairman and CEO of Loblaw.
In addition, Luc Mongeau has been appointed president, Weston Foods and Sarah Davis president, Loblaw.
Weston became chairman of George Weston last September, succeeding his father W. Galen Weston, who stepped down at the age of 75 after over four decades leading George Weston. With his appointment today as CEO, Weston succeeds Pavi Binning, who will become special advisor to Wittington Investments, Limited, owned by the Weston family. Binning will step down from the George Weston and Loblaw boards of directors.
"Pavi has played a pivotal role in shaping the company's strategic direction," Weston said. "And he has provided strong support through the leadership succession process which we have just completed. Our family looks forward to continuing to benefit from his valuable experience and insight with our other business interests."
Davis will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operation of Loblaw's business and execution of its strategy. Davis will report to Weston. Since 2014, Davis has served as chief administrative officer, responsible for supply chain, IT (including SAP implementation), process and efficiencies, real estate, goods not for resale and strategy.
Prior to that, she served as CFO Loblaw, appointed in 2010.
"I am extremely pleased to welcome Sarah to the role of president. She has an exceptional understanding of Loblaw," Weston said. "This, together with her strong financial background, particularly in operational roles, positions her well for this expanded leadership role," he said. "I look forward to continuing to work closely with Sarah and the whole management team in the years ahead as we focus on delivering the best in food, best in health and beauty, operational excellence and growth."
Mongeau, newly appointed president of Weston Foods, is a seasoned consumer goods executive with extensive branding, product development, operations and P&L management experience in food, chocolate and petcare categories. Over a 15-year career at Mars, his roles included leading the Canadian business, Mars Petcare's multi-billion dollar North American business and setting the global strategic and marketing direction for some of Mars' leading Petcare brands.
The rest of the broader management teams at George Weston and Loblaw remain unchanged.