NEW SUITOR EMERGES FOR CASEY'S
ANKENY, Iowa — The battle to take over Casey's General Stores here took another turn last week when the convenience store chain said a new party — reportedly 7-Eleven — had made a superior offer to the revised bid of Alimentation Couche-Tard. Casey's described the new offer as a “preliminary proposal from a strategic third party” at $40 per share, above a revised bid of $38.50 a share from Couche-Tard, which since April has been pursuing an acquisition of Casey's without success or the OK of Casey's board. Couche-Tard last week said the timing was “suspicious” given it came only two weeks before Casey's annual meeting and just days following the company's own recapitalization: “We believe this is another maneuver orchestrated by the Casey's board to artificially inflate its stock price leading up to the shareholder vote.”
FITCH UPGRADES AHOLD DEBT RATING
NEW YORK — Citing a strong performance in difficult economic conditions, Fitch Ratings here last week upgraded its corporate rating on Ahold one notch to BBB. “Ahold's upgrade reflects the continued resilient operating performance of its retail operations in the U.S. and Netherlands and sound financial flexibility within the current ratings,” Fitch said in a statement. “In the U.S., the group performs satisfactorily in a still challenging economic environment characterized by a difficult consumer environment and intense promotional activities among main rival food retailers.”
WHOLE FOODS ADDS ECO-GUIDELINES
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market here last week said it had implemented new eco-friendly packaging guidelines to 2,100 body care and supplement suppliers, spearheading the change by repacking its store-brand supplements and body care products in post-consumer recycled (PCR) containers. The new guidelines, developed in partnership with suppliers over the past two years, mandate that suppliers reduce plastic in packaging and encourage switching to glass, limiting to materials that are easily recycled and/or feature the highest percentage of PCR content, Whole Foods said. All new body care and supplement suppliers must meet the packaging guidelines before their products can be sold at Whole Foods stores, the retailer added.
MOODY'S EYES SUPERVALU DOWNGRADE
NEW YORK — Moody's Investor Service here last week said it has placed the Ba3 corporate family rating of Supervalu and the senior unsecured debt ratings for the company and its subsidiaries on review for possible downgrade based on concerns the credit metrics could remain weak for an extended period. According to Moody's, Supervalu's operating profit margin has been reasonably stable, though at levels that are weak relative to national competitors, while performance metrics, including same-store sales and profitability of grocery operations, have lagged other national chains, due in part to the company's re-merchandising efforts.
LOBLAW SEEKS MORE COLLEGE GRADS
BRAMPTON, Ontario — Loblaw here said last week that it was seeking new college graduates for an 18-month career training program known as Grad@Loblaw. The program hires recent college graduates to full-time positions, including five months working in a retail store, three months in merchandising and their final 10 months in a business group such as marketing, merchandising, product development, supply chain, IT or human resources.