business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Wal-Mart’s “aggressive expansion into groceries has plunged Ontario supermarkets into an ‘irrational’ price war, the head of a leading rival says. The pricing frenzy will continue ‘for the foreseeable future,’ Bill McEwan, chief executive officer of Sobeys Inc., predicted yesterday.”

McEwan told a conference call, “The marketplace went a little irrational. We wanted to make sure that we protected the price competitive position that was so hard fought and so difficult to achieve over the last two to three years with all our investments. We had no intention of letting it slide, irrespective of the impact on the short-term results."

• Published reports that Bain Capital has rejoined a consortium headed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) that is considering making a bid for Coles Group in Australia. Speculation remains that in addition to a consortium of buyout firms, retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco could make a play for Coles.

• The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that even as ConAgra cleans up the plant in Sylvester, Georgia, that was responsible for the peanut butter-related salmonella outbreak last month, the company is pledging to put its implicated Peter Pan brand back on store shelves.

Though it is not really quite sure when.

• Greenpeace, the environmental activist group, has attacked Monsanto for manufacturing genetically modified maize that it says has caused liver and kidney problems in rats that have eaten it. Greenpeace is culturally opposed to genetic engineering of food, and is using these test results to demonstrate that GM technology is unsafe and unproven.

Monsanto did not comment on the specific allegations, but did maintain that the maize has been certified as safe for human consumption.

• The New York Times reports that Cadbury Schweppes plans to split its confectionery and American drinks businesses, describing the move as a way of “unlocking shareholder value.”

• Chiquita Brands International reportedly has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to the US Justice Department, admitting it paid terrorists $1.7 million for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.
KC's View:
In other words, Chiquita was protected from everyone…except Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

There’s a current events joke in there somewhere…