B-F closes $405M BenRiach deal; Bezos says Amazon isn’t gunning for UPS — but he wants ‘better prices’; and Taco’s new Chalupa is one of ‘grossest fast food items ever offered’

BenRiach Distillery
The distillery is in the Highlands of northern Scotland.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 3:47 p.m.

BROWN-FORMAN said today it had completed its previously announced acquisition of Scotland’s BenRiach Distillery Co. for £281 million ($405 million). The deal includes three BenRiach labels and brings Brown-Forman back into the single-malt scotch whisky business. “The GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh single-malt brands are among the finest single malts in the world,” CEO Paul Varga said in a statement. The purchase includes three distilleries, a bottling plant, and the headquarters in Edinburgh. BenRiach was founded in 1826 — 44 years before Brown-Forman was launched (press release). Today’s announcement follows a published report two weeks ago that the Louisville spirits and wine company is considering selling its Finlandia vodka business amid a broader effort to focus on whiskey. Brown-Forman’s Louisville operations.

Jeff Bezos

AMAZON CEO Jeff Bezos told a high-profile technology conference last night that the retail giant isn’t aiming to compete head-on with UPS and other shippers it now partners with. Instead, Amazon wants to pick up the slack when delivery services can’t handle the final stretch. He cited India and the U.K. as examples. “We have had to take over a lot of the last-mile delivery in the U.K. over the last several years,” he told the Code Conference, in wide-ranging remarks. “The Royal Mail ran out of capacity at peak” (Bloomberg). Bezos did, however, hint at another motivation: wrangling better terms on delivery contracts. “Better prices on transportation would be acceptable to us,” he deadpanned (Recode). The Amazon founder was “equally comic, candid, and clever as he offered his views on artificial intelligence, data privacy, free speech, leadership, streaming video, and aerospace” (Fortune).

Elsewhere, Amazon is hiring more than 1,000 workers for its new 855,000 square-foot distribution center opening this summer outside San Antonio; the company already has six other Texas centers, including another one in the San Antonio area (Houston Chronicle). Amazon has five centers in Kentucky, including two in the Louisville area employing 6,000. And with more than 20,000 workers, UPS is Louisville’s biggest private employer.

TACO BELL‘s newest menu offering — a Chalupa with a fried chicken shell — is one of the “grossest fast food items ever offered” (New York Daily News). How it’s made (BuzzFeed). Also, the company has started construction on a restaurant in Nitro, West Virginia (WSAZ).

Ford logoFORD recalled 1.9 million vehicles with certain Takata passenger-side frontal airbag inflators after Takata said the inflators were defective. The vehicles affected are 2007-2010 Ford Edge; 2006-2011 Ford Fusion; 2005-2011 Ford Mustang; 2007-2011 Ford Ranger; 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX, and 2006-2011 Lincoln MKZ, Zephyr and Mercury Milan (Reuters and press release); all about Takata’s airbag scandal. Separately, Ford said total U.S. vehicle sales in May declined 6% from a year ago, to 235,997. That was despite F-Series pickup sales posting a 9% gain, and van sales hitting their best May since 1978 (press release). Ford shares closed down 2.9% at $13.10.

KINDRED said it completed a deal where it’s buying four leased hospitals in Indianapolis, Houston, Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo., and selling two in Cleveland, one owned and another leased. The Louisville hospital and nursing home giant said it paid about $800,000 cash and additional cash consideration to Select Medical Holdings Corp. as part of the deal (press release). Separately, Kindred said it’s closing its Bashford Manor area nursing and rehabilitation center, where 153 employees care for 110 residents (Courier-Journal).

PAPA JOHN’S will be one of the first U.S. restaurant brands to enter Tunisia; it’s the second African country after Egypt to have one of the pizza chain’s franchises. The country in North Africa only recently opened its borders to franchising (Meat & Poultry). More about Tunisia.

GE is scaling back plans for a factory that will build big gas-powered engines in Welland, Ontario; the factory is now in Waukesha, Wisc. The company will create just 150 jobs at the new site, down from 350 at Waukesha, when it first announced the move in September. GE is taking advantage of tax incentives (CBC).

TEXAS ROADHOUSE got only a so-so review in Augusta, Ga., partly because of the restaurant’s signature item: steak. “My first bite of the filet seemed pleasantly salty, but as I went on, the meat was overwhelmed with salt — I couldn’t even finish it,” the reviewer said. “It was tender, but not the most tender filet I’ve ever had. And while I ordered it medium, it was more of a medium rare” (August Chronicle). The restaurant chain tweeted a recommended topping on Sunday:

In other news, the embattled Cahoots bar on Baxter Avenue in the Highlands is closing (Business First). Brawls had been a problem, leading a customer to post a truly gross review, complete with photo! “Blood on the men’s room sink,” wrote John R. “From one of the (many) fights I’ve witnessed at this place. Disgusting” (Yelp).

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