Haier opens Russian fridge factory, as GE close nears today; Ford shakes up China; and ‘you were hot’ at Dallas Roadhouse

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Two employees work on an Appliance Park spray line in 1953, two years after construction started. China-based Haier could close on its $5.4 billion purchase of the GE complex today.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 3:13 p.m.

GE: Haier has opened a new refrigerator factory in Russia to serve increasing demand from the European market. The new plant is the first joint Sino-Russian business project in a non-energy field (China.org). Back in the U.S., Haier wants its product development model to be more collaborative with its supply chain (Plastic News). The Chinese company could close on its $5.4 billion purchase of GE’s appliance business as soon as today. Meanwhile, GE is considering scrapping annual raises, as well as the longstanding and much-imitated system of rating employees on a five-point scale — moves that could lead other major companies to reconsider their own compensation plans (Bloomberg).

FORD reshuffled China sales leadership: Dave Schoch, group vice president and president of Asia Pacific, will take over and add the title of chairman and chief executive officer, Ford China. “As our growth plans in China have developed, this market is delivering an increasingly important portion of our revenue and profits globally,” CEO Mark Fields said. “Elevating the reporting of this business right now reflects China’s importance in our profitable growth plan going forward” (press release). Ford shares were up 1.2% to $13.19 40 minutes before the closing bell.

KFC will temporarily close at least some of its 12 restaurants in the southern African nation of Botswana this week after being placed under partial bankruptcy liquidation. Franchiser VPB Propco said it had been trying to the sell the restaurants for the past year without success, and the only option left was to shutter them, eliminating 400 jobs (Bloomberg). KFC clarified that the liquidation will not affect its business in neighboring South Africa (AFK Insider).

BROWN-FORMAN: Two of the newly appointed members of the board of directors — Campbell Brown and Marshall Farrer — have disclosed stock holdings in the family controlled spirits and wine company. Brown listed sole ownership of 805,313 Class A shares, and 312,208 Class B shares (SEC document). Farrer listed sole ownership of 315 Class A shares, and 116 Class B (SEC document). Both men also disclosed beneficial ownership of thousands of other A and B shares, but because some are counted twice as a result of overlapping trusts, it’s unclear how many shares are involved.

Fortune 500The new Fortune 500 list of the biggest-revenue companies includes three in Louisville. HUMANA (No. 52); YUM (218); and KINDRED (372). They all appeared on the magazine’s list last year, too. Walmart held onto the No. 1 spot in the rankings published today (Fortune).

TEXAS ROADHOUSE: A customer at a Dallas area restaurant regrets a missed opportunity for romance with another diner. “I was sitting outside with my two boys waiting to be seated,” he wrote in the Craigslist Missed Connections section. “You came out and we locked eyes. . . . You then asked if you knew me! You were hot, but I was honest and said no. I wouldn’t mind getting to know you tho! 😉 tell me what you looked like or what you were wearing” (Craigslist Dallas).

In other news, the late boxing heavyweight and humanitarian Muhammad Ali will be buried Friday at Cave Hill Cemetery, a decision the Louisville native made that will raise the profile of the storied burial ground. Ali died late Friday at a Phoenix hospital after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74, and lived principally in Phoenix. His family asked that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to the Muhammad Ali Center downtown (WFPL). About the Muhammad Ali Center.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major stock indices rose shortly before noon as investors look toward a speech by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen (Google Finance). All 11 big employers in Boulevard’s Stock Portfolio were trading higher.

Photo, top: University of Louisville Digital Collections.

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