business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Kohl's Corp. is in "advanced talks" with retail holding company Franchise Group Inc. about a possible sale that would value the department store retailer at about $8 billion.

The negotiations are taking place within a three-week exclusivity window.

Franchise Group, which acquires and manages mainly franchise companies, has a brand portfolio that includes The Vitamin Shoppe, Pet Supplies Plus, American Freight (a mattress and appliance retailer), Buddy's Home Furnishings, Badcock Home Furnishings & More, Wag N Wash (self-service pet cleaning), and Sylvan Learning.

The Journal writes that "Kohl’s, already struggling, was further battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which ate into sales and wiped out profit in 2020. Sales and profit rebounded in 2021, but by January 2022 the retailer’s stock was worth less than it was two decades ago."

•  Crain's Chicago Business reports that "Carl Icahn ended a proxy fight focused on the treatment of pregnant pigs at grocery-chain Kroger Co. after losing a similar battle with McDonald’s Corp. last month.

"The activist investor told shareholders of both companies on Monday that he was conceding the fight at Kroger, saying that he expects the same outcome there as at McDonald’s due to the grocer’s financial position.

"The dispute revolves around the practice of keeping sows in individual pens so small that they can’t lie down or turn around. Icahn had sought to nominate board members to McDonald’s and Kroger as a way to force their pork suppliers to end the practice. His McDonald’s nominees lost in a shareholder vote last month."