business news in context, analysis with attitude

• In the UK, the Takeover Panel announced that private equity groups interested in submitting a bid for J. Sainsbury must do so by Friday, April 13. If a bid is not submitted by the deadline, according to the panel, then the equity groups will have to wait six months to make another move on the retailer…unless, of course, there is another bid for Sainsbury.

• The Murfreesboro Post reports that Publix plans to open two stores in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, this month, and that it has a total of five stores planned for what the Post, perhaps with a bit of hyperbole, refers to as “Tennessee’s most dynamic city.”

• The Baltimore Sun reports that Giant Food plans to “close five of its oldest stores, including three in the Baltimore area, as it tries to improve its standing in the market by focusing on larger and new locations.” The closing will take place after Easter Sunday.

• The Los Angeles Times reports that California Dairies Inc., the giant Central Valley dairy co-op in California that produces 4 of every 10 glasses of milk drunk by Californians, “is phasing out the use of a synthetic bovine growth hormone that increases how much milk cows produce. Despite evidence that the rBST hormone doesn't harm humans, California Dairies Inc. said its biggest customers such as Vons and Safeway didn't want it in the cows. The co-op also supplies brands such as Foster Farms, Knudsen Farms and Producers Dairy.”

Business First reports that Kroger is looking at Louisville, Lexington and Nashville as possible homes for its Kroger Marketplace stores. Firm plans are expected to be announced later this year.

• South Korea announced this morning that “it will lower its quarantine standards this month over banned bone fragments in American beef shipments, paving the way for the resumption of U.S. beef imports,” according to Reuters. South Korea used to be the world’s third largest importer of US beef, but instituted a ban three years ago over concerns about mad cow disease.

• The Boston Globe reports that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a class action lawsuit against Walgreen Co., charging that the company has displayed “widespread racial bias against thousands of black workers throughout the nation's largest drugstore chain.”

Walgreen responded that it is committed to "fairness, diversity, and opportunity" and that it is "saddened and disappointed" by the EEOC action.

• The Boston Globe reports that the Friendly Ice Cream Corp. is considering putting itself for sale, and in the meantime will move to update the menu, improve customer service and modernize the restaurants.
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