A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 4:37 p.m.
UPS: This morning in Lexington, Ky., a Fayette Circuit judge denied a motion to overturn a jury’s April verdict and $5.3 million in damages to eight black men who claimed a hostile work environment at a UPS facility in the city. Judge Ernesto Scorscone also rejected UPS attorney Neal Shah’s motion for a new trial. Shah didn’t have any comment after the hearing (Herald-Leader).
HUMANA and Aetna have only a slight chance to reverse the Justice Department’s decision yesterday to block their $37 billion merger, analysts and investors told Reuters, even as the two insurance giants promise to fight tooth and nail to win. “My initial impression from the complaint . . . is that the Justice Department and the states are on much safer ground” in their argument against an Aetna-Humana, said Beau Buffier, co-head of the antitrust group at Shearman & Sterling in New York (Reuters). Meanwhile, New Hampshire and Florida — with an especially big population of seniors — joined the Justice Department suit filed yesterday to block its $37 billion acquisition by Aetna of Hartford; Illinois joined the suit yesterday (Union Leader and News 4 Jax).
In more encouraging news, Humana was awarded a six-year Defense Department contract for the East Region of TRICARE, the military health care program providing benefits to service members, retirees and their families. Under the award, Humana’s service area would expand to about six million beneficiaries in a 30-state region. The Louisville-based insurer already has the contract for the South Region: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, most of Texas and the Ft. Campbell-area in Kentucky. The new East Region is a combination of the current South and North regions (press release). The contract is worth $41 million (Federal News Radio). Humana’s announcement, nearly buried in yesterday’s DOJ news, to exit eight of 19 state health-care exchanges drew critics, who saw the move as a direct challenge to the Obama administration to block the Humana-Aetna merger (New York Post).
BROWN-FORMAN was awarded a score of 100 in the 2016 Disability Equality Index survey, by the US Business Leadership Network and the American Association of People with Disabilities. The survey awarded points in four major categories: culture and leadership, company-wide access, employment practices, and community engagement and support services. This year, 83 Fortune 1000-size companies completed the survey; two-thirds of these top the Fortune 500 list; complete list (news release).
KFC: Chinese nationalists have added iPhones and Philippine mangoes to KFC in their protests over a recent international tribunal ruling against Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea, and in favor of the Philippines. Protesters had already been hitting KFCs in recent weeks, calling for a boycott as they claim the U.S. is building military ties with the Philippines (Washington Post). Yum’s enormous China Division, based in Shanghai, comprises 7,176 restaurants, including more than 5,000 KFCs. The division, which Yum is planning to spin off by Oct. 31, had total revenue of $6.9 billion last year, more than half of Yum’s total revenue (SEC document).
FORD is recalling 1,895 compact commercial vans in the U.S. because of poorly functioning stability control and brake systems that can increase the risk of a crash. The recall affects 2016 Ford Transit Connect vehicles manufactured between Feb. 22 and June 16 (Trucks).
GE reported a 15% rise in second-quarter revenue this morning, as the former owner of GE Appliances continues to shift toward industrial businesses and away from banking. The company’s shares closed down up 1.6% to $32.06. GE also reported a 2% decrease in orders and described the current business environment as “a volatile and slow-growth economy.” The company said profits were $2.74 billion, or 36 cents a share vs. a loss of $1.36 billion, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $33.49 billion from $29.23 billion (MarketWatch and press release). GE sold its residential appliances division to Haier last month for $5.6 billion, including 6,000-employee Appliance Park in Louisville’s south end.
TEXAS ROADHOUSE: “American Idol” season five contestant Ayla Brown‘s latest record, “Let Love In,” was released last year through a sponsorship deal with Texas Roadhouse. “If you actually go into any Texas Roadhouse,” she told Billboard, “you can see two of my songs in all of their jukeboxes, which is pretty cool.” Under her sponsorship deal, Brown, 27, made multiple appearances at Texas Roadhouse restaurants. Last night, she sang the national anthem during the Republican National Convention after performing at the Republican presidential debates in December (Billboard). Brown’s father is former U.S. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Here’s Let Love In’s official video:
AMAZON confirmed plans to open its seventh Texas distribution center, in Houston, where it will employ about 1,000 more workers. The retailer already employs more than 10,000 at its five existing centers in the state at Coppell, Haslet, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Schertz, with an upcoming facility in San Marcos now under construction (press release). Amazon and Wells Fargo said they would start providing student loans with a new interest rate discount — 0.5% — to members of Prime Student, a subscription service for college students that costs half the price of regular Prime (Fortune). Some consumer advocates were concerned about possible duping of students (Inside Higher Ed). In Italy today, the retail giant is expected to announce the first in a series of investments worth at least $550 million, a bet on the government’s plan to go from laggard to leader in digital commerce (Business Insider).