Walgreens launches next-day prescription delivery with FedEx to compete with Amazon

Pedestrians walk past a Walgreens store in New York. 

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a Walgreens store in New York.

Walgreens is working with FedEx to launch a nationwide next-day delivery service for prescription drugs as the top pharmacy chains gear up to compete with Amazon.

Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack in June, but the deal has not closed yet, giving Walgreens and its rivals the chance to head off a possible disruption in the pharmacy space.

Even before the e-commerce giant announced the acquisition, pharmacies had anticipated that Amazon would branch out into delivering prescription drugs. Competitor CVS rolled out its own delivery service for prescription drugs in June, just days before the deal.

Walgreens already offers same-day delivery in select markets, and the pharmacy chain will continue to expand that program next year.

The delivery service is part of Walgreens Express, which also lets customers preview the cost of their prescriptions and prepay for those that are eligible. Patients can pay $4.99 to have their qualifying prescription drug delivered as early as the next day or choose to pick it up in stores, checking out in a special express line.

“Next-day prescription home delivery is another convenience-driver, alongside our industry-leading number of extended hours pharmacies and one of the most downloaded digital apps in the category, designed to put care in the hands of our patients,” Richard Ashworth, president of operations for Walgreens, said in a statement.

Walgreens and FedEx have already partnered to let customers pick up and drop off packages at almost 8,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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Newcastle United could be the latest Premier League soccer team to have American owners in $382 million takeover

The owner of English Premier League team Newcastle United, Mike Ashley, is reportedly in talks with an American financial investment firm over a potential sale of the club.

A successful deal would bring his tumultuous 11 years in charge at the club to an end. Ashley is also the majority shareholder in U.K.-based sporting goods chain Sports Direct and gave an interview to Sky News earlier this week saying discussions over a sale “are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been.”

Fabian Schar of Newcastle United battles for possession with Bernard of Everton during a Premier League match on December 5, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. 

Jan Kruger | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Fabian Schar of Newcastle United battles for possession with Bernard of Everton during a Premier League match on December 5, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

It’s now believed the bid he was referring to is from the financial advisory company Rockefeller Capital Management. Rockefeller is thought to be working with former Manchester United and Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon as part of a consortium, but it’s not known if a formal bid has been lodged yet.

Ashley could be considering as many as three other offers from interested parties — all thought to be around his £300 million ($382 million) valuation.

“I am hopeful — for the Newcastle fans, for the club, for everybody, that I will be able to step aside and we will be able to get an owner in that will please everybody,” Ashley said Monday, adding that he was not in exclusive talks with any party.

Ashley bought a controlling stake in the club in 2007 for around £134 million. He has a reported net worth of $3.8 billion and has often been criticized for a lack of investment in the playing squad at Newcastle. He added that any potential buyer must be able to provide transfer funds.

“I’m very keen to sell it to the right buyer so that everybody’s happy,” he added. “That would be good news.”

The club based in the north east of England has officially been up for sale for a year, but according to Ashley recent bids were all deemed to be unsuitable.

In order to complete any takeover, all bids are subject to the Premier League’s fit and proper person’s test, which could take as long as two weeks to complete. This would make Ashley’s estimation of a finalized deal by January 1 seem ambitious at this stage.

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Walgreens launches next-day prescription delivery with FedEx to compete with Amazon

Pedestrians walk past a Walgreens store in New York. 

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a Walgreens store in New York.

Walgreens is working with FedEx to launch a nationwide next-day delivery service for prescription drugs as the top pharmacy chains gear up to compete with Amazon.

Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack in June, but the deal has not closed yet, giving Walgreens and its rivals the chance to head off a possible disruption in the pharmacy space.

Even before the e-commerce giant announced the acquisition, pharmacies had anticipated that Amazon would branch out into delivering prescription drugs. Competitor CVS rolled out its own delivery service for prescription drugs in June, just days before the deal.

Walgreens already offers same-day delivery in select markets, and the pharmacy chain will continue to expand that program next year.

The delivery service is part of Walgreens Express, which also lets customers preview the cost of their prescriptions and prepay for those that are eligible. Patients can pay $4.99 to have their qualifying prescription drug delivered as early as the next day or choose to pick it up in stores, checking out in a special express line.

“Next-day prescription home delivery is another convenience-driver, alongside our industry-leading number of extended hours pharmacies and one of the most downloaded digital apps in the category, designed to put care in the hands of our patients,” Richard Ashworth, president of operations for Walgreens, said in a statement.

Walgreens and FedEx have already partnered to let customers pick up and drop off packages at almost 8,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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Lyft files to go public, signalling it could be the first major tech IPO of 2019

A Lyft Amp with driver and passenger on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

Kelly Sullivan | Getty Images
A Lyft Amp with driver and passenger on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

Ride-hailing company Lyft on Thursday confidentially filed a statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, signalling it could be the first major tech IPO of 2019.

Lyft and rival Uber have each teased 2019 public offerings. The companies have been adding offers and services practically in tandem in recent months as they get closer to a contest on the public markets.

Airbnb, Slack and data-mining firm Palantir are also reportedly eyeing IPOs next year.

Lyft did not specify the number of shares it was selling or the price range for the offering. The offering is likely to exceed the $15.1 billion valuation Lyft posted in June.

The IPO is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, Lyft said in its filing. CNBC reported in October that Lyft had selected J.P. Morgan Chase to lead the IPO effort. Credit Suisse and Jefferies are also involved as underwriters in a more junior capacity, people familiar with the matter told CNBC at the time.

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Hermes reigns in Glassdoor’s latest ‘Best places to work’ in France survey, outshining the likes of Ubisoft and Amazon

 

In its fourth year of running a top employers list for France, Glassdoor has seen several companies — like Thales and Airbus — make a reappearance over the years. This December however, the company that’s been hailed as the best place to work for 2019 is a newcomer to France’s list: fashion designer Hermes.

It’s fair to say that France is renowned for its luxury brands, yet Hermes is the only group from this field to make it into this year’s top 10, with Louis Vuitton and L’Oreal coming in at 11 and 16 respectively. Instead, a few other industries fill the top 10, including transportation and retail.

To compile, Glassdoor assessed the input that workers give when offering feedback, in addition to recent ratings, which are on a scale from 1 to 5. The top 10 firms found in this Glassdoor list surpassed the average global rating of 3.4; with each group receiving a figure of 4.2 or higher.

CNBC Make It breaks down the top 10:

10. Amazon

Coming in at number 10 is e-commerce titan Amazon. With a global workforce of more than half a million, Amazon is renowned for its job creation with the e-commerce group stating that in the past five years, it’s created over 125 jobs every day in the States alone.

While office perks vary from country to country, some benefits mentioned include access to medical care and career development programs.

9. Leroy Merlin

Another retailer that’s winning over workers as well as consumers is French-headquartered Leroy Merlin.

Leroy Merlin store in Bonarka City Center. 

Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
Leroy Merlin store in Bonarka City Center.

The DIY group’s operations are featured in about a dozen countries, with 100,000 staff members employed to keep the retailer functioning around the clock.

Having placed on Glassdoor’s “Best Employers” for France since the survey began in 2016, the retailer attributes one reason why it remains popular among employees, is that it sees people as the “central resource” of the business.

8. Thales

Moving up from last year’s no. 24 spot, Thales is all about being a responsible leader in the transport, security and defense spheres. While Thales has attributed “acting responsibly” as a crucial quality to its long-term success, it’s not the only qualities it aims to foster.

Inside the firm, Thales is dedicated to supporting its staff, through promoting diversity, team collaboration and career development — it even has an in-house university to support employees through any part of their profession.

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Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert submits $4.6 billion proposal to save Sears

A man walks by a Sears store.

Andy Clark | Reuters
A man walks by a Sears store.

The fund run by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, ESL Investments, submitted a $4.6 billion proposal on Thursday to help save the bankrupt retailer with the purchase of 500 stores.

Sears Holdings, which owns Sears department stores and Kmart, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15. In previous court filings, it has said it was in talks with ESL about a “going concern bid” that could help the company emerge from bankruptcy.

The offer outlined Thursday included up to $950 million in cash through an asset-based loan facility, a “credit bid” of $1.8 billion and the assumption of roughly $1.1 billion in liabilities. The liabilities assumed include gift cards, points from its Shop Your Way loyalty program and protection agreements from Sears Home Services. Other funds include additional cash, notes and the rollover of cash collateral.

NYT's Jim Stewart on his interview with former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert

NYT’s Jim Stewart on his interview with former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert   11:03 AM ET Fri, 19 Oct 2018 | 05:08

Should the offer be approved, it would help about 50,000 of Sears’ 68,000 employees retain their jobs, ESL said. The new company would reinstate the severance program it had in place prior to Sears’ bankruptcy filing, ESL also said.

“ESL Investments continues to believe in Sears Holdings’ immense potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern with a new capitalization and organizational structure,” ESL wrote in the letter.

ESL may face other competition in its bid for Sears. A “stalking horse bidder” will be named on Dec. 15 in bankruptcy court. That bidder will set the floor for other potential offers. It could not be immediately determined whether others are looking to buy the company.

The offer itself will not ensure Sears’ survival. ESL will need support from its creditors and approval from the bankruptcy court to proceed with its offer.

The company’s unsecured creditors have already said they would prefer the company liquidate rather than sell to ESL, believing it is more valuable in pieces than as a company under ESL’s ownership.

The use of existing debt to buy a company out of bankruptcy through a so-called credit bid is a controversial practice. Some view credit bids as giving investors who buy a distressed company’s debt at cheap prices an unfair path to ownership.

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Untuckit, the company known for its untucked shirts, is looking to raise money at a valuation greater than $600 million

Shoppers browse clothing inside an Untuckit LLC store at the King of Prussia mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania,  Oct. 20, 2018. 

Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shoppers browse clothing inside an Untuckit LLC store at the King of Prussia mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania,  Oct. 20, 2018.

Men have worn untucked shirts for years. When a company came along to sell only shirts that are designed to be untucked – not surprisingly that market turned out to be pretty lucrative.

That company, known as Untuckit, has hired a prominent investment bank to raise money and help fuel its growth, according to people familiar with the situation. Untuckit is seeking a deal that will value it at more than $600 million and has Morgan Stanley out looking for the funds.

In doing so, it follows a similar path forged by other brands like sustainable sneaker brand AllBirds, which in October raised $50 million from T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Tiger Global.

Untuckit has roughly $150 million in sales and is profitable, the people said. It raised $30 million from venture firm Kleiner Perkins last June, reportedly valuing it at more than $200 million.

The people asked not to be named because the information is confidential. Untuckit and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Untuckit is the brainchild of Executive Chairman Chris Riccobono and CEO Aaron Sanandres. Riccobono had been struggling to find a dress shirt that wasn’t too big or too baggy. He worked to develop a professional solution with his fellow Columbia Business School classmate.

The two launched the brand online in 2011. Four years later, they opened its first brick-and-mortar store in New York’s SoHo district. The co-founders were early believers in the idea that e-commerce companies can benefit from storefronts, which can help to alleviate marketing and delivery costs.

Untuckit now has 50 stores nationwide and has said it aims to open 100 stores over the next five years.

The brand has also expanded beyond men who want to go untucked. It now sells shirts, dresses, tees and jackets for women, as well as shirts and bottoms for boys.

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Obamacare enrollment sinks 11% — historically low unemployment is at least partly to blame

Sign-up rates for Obamacare health coverage have fallen 11 percent from the same time last year, but at least part of the decline is being attributed to something good.

More Americans are getting their health insurance from employers thanks to the tightest U.S. labor market in nearly 50 years, health policy experts say. Low unemployment rates, at 3.7 percent in October, mean fewer people need to buy insurance on the federal Affordable Care Act exchanges, they say.

President Donald Trump’s changes to the ACA are still being blamed for a lot of the drop. It’s the first enrollment season since Congress repealed the so-called individual mandate, a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health-care law. The mandate imposed a tax on the uninsured to persuade people to buy insurance instead of paying a penalty.

The repeal of the federal mandate last December, along with Trump’s push for cheaper, less comprehensive short-term health plans and a substantial slash in outreach funding, was expected to damper ACA enrollment rates this year.

Consumers still have another week to sign up, so researchers can’t draw any hard conclusions until the final numbers are in.

Policy experts are also taking a close look at states such as New Jersey, which enacted its own individual mandate in May. As of Dec. 1, the Garden State saw enrollment numbers down 13 percent compared with the same time last year, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Historically low unemployment

Regardless, the tight labor market is helping reduce dependence on the federal program, said Joel Cantor, the founding director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“The economy has increased employment rates and encouraged more firms to offer decent benefits in order to be competitive in labor markets,” he said.

While the ACA law doesn’t require small businesses to offer health coverage, more may now be doing so to attract and retain workers, he said.

The unemployment rate in New Jersey is at its lowest level since June 2001, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It fell to 4.1 percent in October after remaining at 4.2 percent for three months. The national unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, its lowest level since 1969.

Chris Sloan, director at Avalere Health, said it’s too soon to quantify whether higher employment, the end of the mandate penalty or short-term plans are impacting overall exchange open enrollment. He notes that the exchange market is primarily a low-income market of people who receive subsidies.

“It’s way too early; we don’t have any way to quantify these effects yet,” he said.

Additionally, Sloan said he doesn’t think the end of the mandate is a big deal, because it was so easy to get out of it even during the Obama administration.

“The Obama administration, and subsequently the Trump administration, did not enforce it; and it’s hard to have a powerful mandate if the administration is giving millions of exemptions and creating really broad exemption categories, which the Obama administration did for political reasons,” Sloan said.

Cynthia Cox, director of the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation, agreed with Cantor’s assessment, adding the economy is improving and “when the economy improves, people have jobs and don’t have to get health-care coverage elsewhere.”

However, she added that the economic impacts on health coverage would vary by state.

Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia, which operate on locally run exchanges, have also passed laws restoring the individual mandate. As of Nov. 26, enrollment in Massachusetts is up 4 percent compared with last year. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in October. Data isn’t yet available in Vermont and D.C.

Nearly 90,000 people have signed up for health coverage through New Jersey’s Obamacare marketplace so far this season, CMS data show, down from 104,142 this same time last year.

Meanwhile, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has been pushing for public awareness on open enrollment. On Monday the governor warned residents they had 12 days left to sign up for coverage.

Looking ahead to enrollment deadline

Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and runs until Dec. 15 in most states. People who do not sign up for an Obamacare plan by the end of open enrollment will not be able to obtain coverage until the fall of 2019, unless they have a so-called qualifying life event such as getting married or having a child.

Cox of Kaiser said it’s worth considering whether New Jersey residents know the state enacted its own individual mandate and assessing how big the New Jersey governor’s outreach was. Cox also said it’s worth seeing whether the newly created jobs in New Jersey provided health coverage.

Judy Solomon, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank, said the tighter labor market could possibly be playing a factor in lower enrollment but qualified that it would likely vary by state.

Solomon said it’s worth waiting until the Dec. 15 deadline before reaching any conclusions.

“I’m not sure the mandate [in New Jersey] itself would drive enrollment, because there isn’t a lot of knowledge about repeal and likely about N.J. adopting its own,” Solomon added. “We’ve been worried about the impact of cuts in outreach and enrollment assistance but seems like N.J. is doing at least some outreach on its own and the state has seen decreases in premiums.”

Most policy experts expect to see a surge in enrollment as states near the mid-December deadline.

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Apple is in talks to buy a violent Israeli TV show and sign Richard Gere as lead, dispelling the myth that it wants only family-friendly video

Actor Richard Gere filming on location for 'Arbitrage' on the streets of Manhattan on April 11, 2011 in New York City.

Bobby Bank | WireImage | Getty Images
Actor Richard Gere filming on location for ‘Arbitrage’ on the streets of Manhattan on April 11, 2011 in New York City.

Apple is in advanced talks to buy rights to a gritty Israeli TV show called “Nevelot” (English translation: “Bastards”) and adapt it for the U.S., beating out bids from competitors including Showtime, FX and Amazon, according to several people with knowledge of the deal. The show’s plot involves two military veterans who go on a youth-focused killing spree because they believe today’s kids don’t understand the sacrifices of their generation.

While the details are still being worked out, show-runners Howard Gordon and Warren Leight are in negotiations to reformat it for the American market, perhaps under a different name, according to people familiar. Both have had critical success as TV show-runners, with Gordon co-helming “24” and “Homeland” and Leight behind “In Treatment,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.”

Richard Gere is also in talks to star in the series. Apple and 21st Century Fox will be co-producing. The project was previously in development at HBO.

All sides are still talking, and the deal is not yet finalized. It could fall though, the people said, if certain agreements were not reached, including budget.

Apple, Gordon and Gere declined to comment. Leight did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Fox said no deal is done and declined to discuss details.

The purchase of a violent show seems in contrast to Apple’s traditionally prudish standards for apps it sells in the App Store. In that vein, the Wall Street Journal reported in September that Apple did not want shows that included violence, politics or rude language.

But multiple people who have spoken to Apple and have knowledge of their thinking in recent months say that’s simply not true, and TV-MA content is fair game.

Apple’s heads of programming, Zach Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who started in June, have been working overtime to dispel the myth that Apple is interested only in family-friendly material.

In general, Apple wants high-impact content based on things people have heard of, like books, franchises or ideas that have resonance, according to people who have spoken to the company. It’s not wedded to existing formats that need commercial breaks, emphasizing unusual formats like anthologies and content that doesn’t fit within the traditional 30-minute and 60-minute time slots. The company is emphasizing it’s looking for “different” content, as long as it has substance and isn’t gratuitous.

The push is pitting them directly against deep-pocketed distributors like Netflix and Amazon, who also are hungry for content that is likely to get acclaim. Apple has indicated it is willing to pay premium prices for shows that have awards potential.

Looking for Apple’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Van Amburg and Erlicht, who were previously presidents of Sony Pictures Television, are highly respected in the entertainment industry. One of their biggest successes was bringing “Breaking Bad” and its showrunner Vince Gilligan to Sony.

The duo has made it very clear they are now looking for Apple’s version of the series, which revolved around an high school teacher turned meth dealer.

But so far, the projects Apple has announced aren’t rocking the boat. “Amazing Stories” has been described as a softer version of Netflix’s “Black Mirror,” while “Top of the Morning” is a broadcast news drama — basically a safer version of HBO’s “Newsroom,” as one person characterized it.

Despite the push for its “Breaking Bad,” Apple is not only interested in adult content. It’s also in the market for kids’ programming, focusing on buying shows for preschoolers this year. Starting next year, the company will start looking at shows for school-aged children. It is expected Apple will have parental controls to help parents shield children from watching inappropriate content.

The immediate goal is to build a content library for an upcoming media service, several people said. At some point next year, Apple will announce the product and offer the content for free on its devices. The first slate of shows have a tentative deadline of spring 2019, and the company is expected to spend $4.2 billion on content through 2022 per Variety.

But in conversations with TV show creators and agents Van Amburg and Erlicht have also painted a long-term vision of more advanced interactive and immersive content. These plans are not imminent and are not driving which shows they’re aiming to buy, but are rather an example of the kind of advantages Apple could bring to the table.

Some industry executives have questioned if Apple has a chance to steal eyeballs away from Netflix, Amazon and other industry leaders considering the already competitive landscape. WarnerMedia has indicated it too is willing to invest heavily into new shows and movies.

Still if the money is there, there’s no reason for show makers to turn it down. More services mean more players to bid up prices. As one executive noted, everyone is more than happy to take Apple’s money until it ends.

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Fiat Chrysler plans to open factory in Detroit to build new three-row, Jeep Grand Cherokee: Sources

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly workers build 2019 Ram pickup trucks at the FCA Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, October 22, 2018. 

Rebecca Cook | Reuters
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly workers build 2019 Ram pickup trucks at the FCA Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, October 22, 2018.

Fiat Chrysler, riding a wave of strong truck and SUV sales, is planning to build a new final assembly plant in Detroit even as other American automakers scale back operations in the U.S., according to people familiar with the plan.

The assembly plant, an old Mack II Engine Plant that closed in 2012, will build a new three-row, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV starting in 2020 as the automaker moves to keep up with strong demand for utility vehicles, the people said. A spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler would not comment on the report, nor confirm the automaker’s plans.

The move comes as the industry faces pressure from President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and stands in stark contrast to the recent decision by General Motors to stop production and idle five plants in North America including four in the United States.

Daimler CEO arrives at White House for auto meeting

Daimler CEO arrives at White House for auto meeting   11:43 AM ET Tue, 4 Dec 2018 | 02:01

GM has come under fire after announcing last week that it plans to cut 14,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, citing a weakening economy, the escalating trade war and a desire to reposition itself as a smaller, more nimble company. Ford is also scaling back, saying last week that it planned to cut a shift at two of its U.S. plants in an attempt to avoid more onerous layoffs.

Detroit will lose two GM facilities altogether. Both were performing well under capacity and contributing to a dismal capacity utilization rate of just 76 percent across the United States, far below Fiat Chrysler’s rate of 90 percent.

Fiat Chrysler’s plants are running at close to capacity due to continued strong demand for trucks and SUV’s. Overall, Fiat Chrysler’s sales in the U.S. are up 8 percent this year, easily outpacing the industry less than one percent according to the market research firm Autodata.

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