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• The Wall Street Journal reports on a Bank of America analysis suggesting that Wal-Mart operations are being “meaningfully” impacted by union-backed critics campaigning against it.

“Bank of America analyst David Strasser wrote in a note distributed Thursday to his firm's clients that the union groups have $20 million in financial backing from their national organizations and contributions from their local divisions,” the Journal writes. “He estimates that Wal-Mart, in turn, employs 100 people tasked, at least in part, with countering the union group's criticisms, amounting to a $10 million expense in salary and benefits.”

The broader issue, according to Strasser, is that Wal-Mart’s senior management is so busy trying to counter criticisms and activist campaigns against it that it has been distracted from focusing on the company’s strategic and tactical initiatives.

Wal-Mart labeled the conclusions as “absurd.”

“Union leaders are wasting millions of their members' hard-earned dollars every year attacking Wal-Mart," spokesman David Tovar said. "Published reports and our own internal tracking consistently show that the critics' efforts are having minimal impact on the company's reputation."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott has received $22 million worth of stock in the company last week “after the retailer determined that revenue-growth performance goals had been achieved.”

Scott wasn’t celebrating his good fortune alone. The Journal notes that “Vice Chairman John B. Menzer reported receiving $11 million in stock, while Michael T. Duke received $8.81 million in stock and Chief Financial Officer Thomas M. Schoewe received stock valued at $6.6 million.”

The shares do not vest immediately, but rather in phases starting in 2009.
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