THE WEEK’S OVERVIEW – CORPORATE

Items of interest in the corporate world:

  • Privat equity firm Blackstone has inked a deal with Singapore’s GLP to acquire a large portion of their warehouse real estate holdings in the U.S.  The price tag was $18.7 billion.   Amazon.com is a big rental client for the properties.  Industrial real estate properties have been booming, due to the need of Amazon, Walmart and others to have warehouse space near the large cities to facilitate logistics of short-term shipping.
  • Hedge fund owner Edward Lampert has reached a $21 billion deal to bring Sears’ Hometown stores under the same corporate umbrella as Sears and Kmart – the Transform Holdco LLC, of which majority ownership is held by Lampert’s ESL Investments.  Sears Hometown had net sales of $1.4 billion last fiscal year and has more than 600 stores nationwide.  The arrangement also allows for Sears Hometown to sell its Sears Outlet stores and Buddy’s Home Furnishing stores to the same group, at a price of $97.5 million and to close by October, 2019.  The continuing saga of Lampert’s Sears takedown.
  • Amazon and Walmart have a continuing delivery rivalry underway.  Walmart announced that it would begin offering free next-day delivery shipping for about 200,000 products, for customers in several cities.  Amazon’s response was to announce that it has made more than 10 million products available for free one-day shipping to Amazon Prime members.
  • Beyond Meat offers meat alternatives, and, while a current favorite of Wall Street, is not the final word in plant-based meat substitutes.  The company remains a “bit player” (ref WSJ) and can anticipate greater competition in this market niche from companies like MorningStarFarms (Kellog), Boca (Kraft Heinz).    Meat alternatives are currently around 5% of the meat market and Beyond Meat currently has 2% of that market.  Typically, imitation meats have been displayed in the freezer section and aimed at vegetarians, but Beyond Meat has asked that its products be added to the refrigerated section, next to fresh meats, to reach a broader range of customers.
  • Walmart is ramping up its e-commerce ad business and has hired a veteran of Google and Amazon for a new position as the company’s head of global technology.   Suresh Kumar will become the first global chief technology officer and chief development office at Walmart, beginning in July.
  • We talked about blockchain development in earlier posts.  Two major European cargo ship operators have signed on to a blockchain platform formed by A.P. Moeller-Moersk and International Business Machines.  This move is considered to be a significant boost for the adoption of the blockchain technology across the logistics industry.  For ocean carriers, the blockchain technology allows trusted participants to share information as goods move through supply chains.

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