business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Associated Press reports that Unilever struck a deal to acquire Seventh Generation, a sustainable cleaning products company. Terms of the deal, expected to close by the end of next month, were not disclosed.

Unilever has been on a bit of an acquisition tear lately, buying Dollar Shave Club and reportedly in talks to buy Honest Co., the environmentally friendly CPG company co-founded by actress Jessica Alba.

Unilever has proven itself to be a hands-off owner in cases where the companies it buys have unique and differentiated cultures, as with Ben & Jerry's, which has maintained a counter-culture image despite multinational ownership. According to the story, "Seventh Generation spokeswoman Brandi Thomas says Unilever’s sustainability goals line up well with the company’s values," and adds that company remains committed to Burlington, Vermont, where it long has been headquartered.

Fortune reports that when Bayer acquires Monsanto, a deal that is expected to close by the end of 2017, it is a possibility that it will get rid of the Monsanto name and sell its products, like seed corn and Roundup herbicide, as Bayer CropScience brands.

The story notes that "Monsanto has quite a bad reputation among environmentalists who don’t approve of its use of genetically modified crops, and resistance against labeling them. It also isn’t on such great terms with those who haven’t forgotten about its Agent Orange herbicide that was weaponized by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

"While Bayer isn’t exactly in the good graces of environmentalists either, it is better known for inventing Aspirin, which it brought to the market in 1899."

Bayer should not count too much on the idea that eliminating the Monsanto name will alleviate certain headaches. The activists that oppose Monsanto are not stupid.

• The Associated Press reports that Whole Foods has agreed to pay a $3.5 million fine to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "over its improper identification or mishandling of hazardous waste at stores."

According to the story, "The EPA says the grocer’s violations were at stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In a statement, Whole Foods said there was no allegation or finding by the EPA that it improperly disposed of hazardous wastes, but that it addressed 'record keeping' with regard to hazardous waste in its stores ... Whole Foods says it worked with the EPA and has updated operations and training, plus improved its systems to better track such waste."
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