Fiji Water: Shutting off the Tap?
Fiji's military government on Nov. 18 expelled David Roth, the top local manager of Fiji Water, a company owned by Los Angeles billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick. The move comes amid rumors that Fiji may limit access to the aquifer that supplies the water. Roth's visa was revoked following the resignation of acting Prime Minister Ratu Ganilau, who left his post citing differences with the country's ruler, Voreqe Bainimarama, "over the David Roth issue," Pacific News Agency Service reports. Bainimarama has accused Fiji Water—which accounts for 20 percent of the island nation's exports—of selling to its U.S. parent at artificially low prices to avoid taxes, according to Agence France-Presse.
Chrysler: Big Hopes for Small-Car Makers
Executives for the Smart and Mini small-car brands hope interest in subcompacts will heat up when Fiat's 500, with a $15,500 price, hits U.S. showrooms in January. Mini's U.S. sales are off by 1.6 percent this year, to 38,538, while sales of Smart's U.S. model, fortwo, have plummeted 61 percent, to 5,146. Small-car makers hope the increased competition will attract interest among American buyers. Chrysler, now owned by Fiat, will be in charge of marketing the 500.
J. Crew: Before Black Friday, a Sale
J.Crew (JCG) has agreed to be acquired by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners for about $3 billion. The new owners say they will keep working with CEO Millard Drexler, the former Gap chief executive, who has doubled J.Crew's revenue to $1.6 billion, since taking over in 2003. On Nov. 23, however, the retailer lowered its full-year earnings forecast for the second time this year. Sales at J.Crew stores open at least one year dropped 1 percent in the quarter ended Oct. 30, while net income fell 14 percent.
Tesco: Playing Catch-Up in China
British retailer Tesco plans to quadruple its sales annually in China, to $6.4 billion, and increase its mainland stores from 88 to 200 in the next five years. Tesco is playing catch-up to rivals Wal-Mart and Carrefour, which entered China almost a decade earlier. Researcher Planet Retail estimates grocery retail sales in China will hit $969 billion this year. In September, Tesco revealed plans to develop 80 five-story Lifespace malls there, with movie theaters and restaurants. It is also stepping up expansion plans in India and South Korea.
KKR: Going to the Dogs (and Cats)
KKR (KKR) is in advanced talks to acquire Del Monte Foods (DLM) in a deal that would give the New York buyout firm pet-food brands such as Meow Mix, Kibbles 'n Bits, and Milk-Bone, according to two people familiar with the matter. Del Monte's pet food sales have more than doubled since 2006, to $1.75 billion, for the year ended May 2, making up roughly half the company's revenue. The move is part of an ongoing consolidation of the pet food industry. In September, Nestlé bought dog snack maker Waggin' Train. In May, Procter & Gamble, owner of Iams and Eukanuba, purchased Natura Pet Products.
On the Move
— KeyCorp (KEY): Vice-Chair Beth Mooney to become CEO in May
— Airbus: Production chief Gerald Weber to resign in March 2011