Ball State defends $3.3M from Schnatter-Koch; more Humana-Aetna op; Ford GT back at Le Mans, and Brits say KFC server in Fla. was ‘most miserable’

Latest headlines, focused on big employers; updated at 4:37 p.m.

Ford GT Le Mans
Ford’s new GT faces Ferraris and other top rivals at famous French race again. Thousands have applied to buy one of the $400,000 supercars.

PAPA JOHN’S: Ball State University deflected concerns over accepting a $3.3 million donation from Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation, to promote free enterprise, saying it wouldn’t subvert academic freedom (Star-Press). The March donation is only the latest from the two men.

Schnatter and Koch
Schnatter and Koch.

They gave $12 million to the University of Kentucky in December and $6.3 million to the University of Louisville in March 2015, in both cases also to establish free-enterprise institutes. Administrators there offered similar assurances about academic independence. But a contract UK signed and Schnatter’s views on capitalism point to a possibly sharp collision of goals. Schnatter graduated from Ball State in Muncie, Ind., in 1983, and started his pizza company the following year.

GE: In Appliance Park, new owner Haier is getting a facility that’s completely rebuilt itself from years of outsourcing and offshoring,” said John Shook, CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute, which advised long-time GE owner in trimming management and tweaking production. “GE Appliances is a lean producer with an engaged leadership that has done an excellent job involving the union workforce to build in quality on the front lines (Benzinga). China-based Haier completed the $5.6 billion deal a week ago today; Appliance Park has about 6,000 employees making refrigerators and other home appliances.

HUMANA and planned acquirer Aetna face increased opposition to the $37 billion deal — as do merger partners Anthem and Cigna — from a new coalition of consumer and medical groups worried about the consolidations,  which would shrink the healthcare insurance market to three major insurers from five (CT Mirror). Aetna officials have said recently the deal is still on track to close in this year’s second half. About Humana.

Edsel Ford II
Ford

FORD: Unfortunately misnamed Edsel Ford II leaves tomorrow for Le Mans to watch the new Ford GT return to the legendary race against Ferraris, Porches and Aston Martins, starting Sunday. Ford, 67, a great-grandson of the company’s founder, visited the track with his father, Henry Ford II, in 1966 when he was a teen to witness the Ford GT40 place 1-2-3. “Fifty years have gone by fast,” he said. “Seems like yesterday I was there with Dad” (Detroit Free Press). The GT racing is based on the all-new $400,000 supercar unveiled in January. Le Mans history. Edsel Ford is a consultant to the company and member of its board of directors. At this year’s annual meeting, he faced the most resistance from shareholders re-electing directors, apparently over the $650,000 Ford paid him as a consultant. About Ford in Louisville.

Watch video of the 1966 race, and the new car:

KFC: Job recruiters want to talk to you if you have a “friendly attitude and positive demeanor” at an open house on Thursday (CraigsList). Elsewhere in Maryland, firefighters responded to a mulch fire early Saturday afternoon that spread to the exterior of a KFC; no injuries were reported. Why was there mulch so close? The news report is silent on that important question (Carroll County Times). More about KFC corporate parent Yum.

In top culture news, Broadway’s Hamilton won 11 Tonys last night, including best musical — just shy of the record of 12 won by The Producers. Tickets are impossible to get, as we discovered when we found one for a whopping $7,075 in a travel story last month.

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