business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From Reuters:

"A U.S. judge dismissed a consumer lawsuit challenging Kroger's $25 billion bid for rival grocer Albertsons, days after a hearing where the court criticized the private antitrust complaint as 'weak.'

"In his Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the 25 plaintiffs in California, Texas, Florida and other states had 'made no effort to explain how the merger would affect any one of them personally.'

"Chhabria also said a decision now on the merits of the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction to block Kroger's acquisition was premature, since the proposed deal would not close at least until January 2024 and there is a pending Federal Trade Commission review."

•  From Fox News:

"Albertsons, which operates nearly 600 grocery stores under different brands in California, including Safeway and Vons, was ordered to stop selling drugs after their expiration date in the state, the Yolo County District Attorney’s office announced Thursday.

"A complaint filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court alleged that Albertsons had illegally sold expired over-the-counter drugs at its stores for four years.

"The Yolo District Attorney’s Office said that when Albertsons was made aware of the findings it 'conducted internal checks for expired over-the-counter drugs at all their California retail locations' and retrained staff … Albertsons was also ordered to pay $3,000,000 in civil penalties; $300,000 to partially reimburse the state for investigative costs; and $200,000 in restitution."

• From the Associated Press:

"US employers added 187,000 jobs last month, fewer than expected, as the higher interest rates continued to weigh on the economy. But the unemployment rate dipped to 3.5 percent in a sign that the job market remains resilient.

"Hiring was up from 185,000 in June, a figure that the Labor Department revised down from an originally reported 209,000. Economists had expected to see 200,000 new jobs in July.

"Still last month’s hiring was solid, considering that the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest 11 times since March 2022. And the Fed’s inflation fighters will welcome news that more Americans entered the job market last month, easing pressure on employers to raise wages to attract and keep staff."

•  Campbell Soup announced that it has acquired Sovos Brands - parent company to Rao's sauces, Michael Angelo's frozen foods, and Noosa yogurts, among others - for $2.7 billion.  The deal should give the Sovos-owned brands grater distribution after the deal closes, probably by the end of 2023.

•  Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that it is selling eight beer and beverage brands -  including Shock Top and Blue Point - to cannabis company Tilray Brands.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that "it is the latest foray by Tilray into alcoholic beverages. In November, it agreed to buy craft brewer and hard seltzer maker Montauk Brewing. The company says the acquisition will make it the fifth largest craft beer brewer in the U.S., giving it a 5% share of the market … The sale by Anheuser-Busch comes after the company in July laid off hundreds of workers at its U.S. offices after months of slumping sales of its Bud Light brand."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that New Jersey now can claim for itself sole ownership of a unique title - it is the only state in the US where people cannot pump their own gas.

The appellation comes as Oregon last weekend ended its 72-year ban on self-service gasoline pumps.

The Journal notes that "even as a full-service state, New Jersey often has lower gas prices than its neighbors, according to average prices compiled by AAA. Jersey prices for regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.73 a gallon this weekend compared with $3.90 in New York and $3.91 in Pennsylvania, according to the automobile association. The national average was $3.83 a gallon as of Sunday."