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Akzo Nobel continues in acquisition bid for ICI

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Netherlands-based coatings company Akzo Nobel is growing closer to acquiring Imperial Chemical Industries, the coatings giant known as ICI Paints.

ICI, with a corporate parent based in the United Kingdom, has a large North American presence with brands including Dulux, Glidden and Liquid Nails. The company was number 16 on HCN’s Top 500 list of home channel retailers, following estimated 2006 sales at ICI’s retail stores of $1.8 billion.

Akzo has upped its bid for ICI to about $16 billion (8 billion pounds) and, in recent weeks, has expressed confidence in receiving shareholder backing for the bid. According to Bloomberg, Akzo Nobel spokesman Tim van der Zanden said this week, “We are convinced that we will get the backing of our shareholders at a meeting at the end of October. We have already been on a mini-roadshow.”

Some shareholders reportedly like the new deal, which sets a per-share price that is more than 20 percent higher than ICI’s stock was worth on June 15. But at least one investment firm criticized the proposal — United States-based TPG-Axon, which owns a 3.5 percent stake in Akzo Nobel, reportedly called the deal “overpriced” and said it would lead to lower value for Akzo Nobel’s own stock.

If the acquisition comes to fruition, ICI will sell its U.S. National Starch Unit to Henkel, a German detergent maker.

In June, the U.K. Takeover Panel ordered Akzo Nobel to make a formal bid for ICI. Prior to that, Akzo Nobel made an informal bid of $14.2 billion for the paint giant. In May, ICI announced plans to delist from the New York Stock Exchange in a bid to save about $8 million. ICI sells paint in Europe, the Americas and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Akzo manufactures paints and coatings under the names Crown, Sikken and Schoenox, among others, with operations in 60 countries.

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Record second-quarter earnings at Lowe’s

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s, the world’s second largest home channel retailer, reported second-quarter earnings of $1.02 billion, up 9 percent from $935 million last year — a record, according to the company.

Sales for the quarter were up 5.8 percent to $14.2 billion from $13.4 billion last year. Comparable-store sales were down 2.6 percent.

The comp-store sales decline was in line with guidance, said chairman and CEO Robert Niblock, “ despite the external pressures impacting our results.”

“Macro economic factors, including the many aspects of the housing market, continue to result in regionally disparate performance,” Niblock said. “Markets in California and Florida, generally considered most pressured by housing, continue to perform significantly worse than average.”

Comparatively, the company’s markets in the Northeast, while still producing negative comparable-store sales, showed “encouraging signs of improvement” during the quarter, he said.

Lowe’s opened 26 new stores in the United States during the quarter, bringing the company’s total store count as of Aug. 3 to 1,424 stores in 49 states. The company expects to open 40 new stores in the third quarter. Sales are anticipated to increase between 7 percent and 8 percent, and comp-store sales are expected to remain flat next quarter, according to Lowe’s.

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Tractor Supply names new board member

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Nashville, Tenn.-based farm and fleet retailer Tractor Supply has named Louisiana-Pacific CEO Robert Frost to the company’s board of directors.

“During his career, Rick has developed expertise in procurement, logistics and supply chain management. As a CEO, he brings additional executive governance perspective to Tractor Supply Co.,” said Jim Wright, president and CEO of Tractor Supply.

Frost serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. He is a board member of the American Forest & Paper Association, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Temperate Forest Foundation. He also serves as vice chairman of the National Air and Stream Council.

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