Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 5, 2017

The NCAA lifts ban after North Carolina repeals "bathroom law," JAB Holdings agrees to buy Panera Bread, and more

1

NCAA lifts North Carolina ban after state repeals 'bathroom law'

The NCAA said Tuesday that it was "reluctantly" ending its boycott on holding championship events in North Carolina over the "bathroom bill" Republican lawmakers pushed through last year, but repealed last week. The six-month boycott started after state lawmakers voted to require transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, rather than the one with which they identify. The NCAA said the repeal, which also bars local government from enacting their own anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people until 2020, "minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment."

2

JAB Holdings buying Panera Bread for $7.5 billion

JAB Holdings, which owns Caribou Coffee and Peet's Coffee & Tea, said Wednesday that it would buy sandwich and bakery chain Panera Bread in a cash deal valued at $7.5 billion. JAB's offer of $315 per Panera share represented a 20 percent premium over Panera stock's closing price on March 31, the last trading day before Bloomberg first reported a possible sale was looming. Panera shares dropped by more than 2 percent on Tuesday. Acquiring Panera could help JAB compete with Dunkin Brands and other rivals.

3

High-ranking Fed official resigns over leak

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker abruptly stepped down on Tuesday after admitting that he disclosed confidential and potentially market-moving information on a key Fed meeting to a Wall Street analyst in 2012. "I crossed a line," Lacker said. The non-voting central bank policy maker, who had been planning to retire in October, said he did not mean to "reveal confidential information," but he might have broken a rule against disclosing anything that would give someone an advantage in business. Lacker's attorney said no charges would be filed over the matter, and the Fed's inspector general, Mark Bialek, said he was closing the investigation into the leak.

4

Advertiser exodus from Bill O'Reilly's show gets bigger

More advertisers left Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show on Tuesday, following the lead of automakers Mercedes Benz and Hyundai. More than 20 major advertisers, including BMW, insurer Allstate, and financial firm T. Rowe Price, have joined the exodus, which began after The New York Times reported over the weekend that O'Reilly and his employer had paid five women $13 million to settle allegations of sexual harassment or other offensive behavior. O'Reilly has long dominated cable ratings and made a fortune as Fox News' top money maker, earning the company $178 million in ad dollars in 2015, and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016, according to research firm Kantar Media.

5

Payless ShoeSource becomes latest retailer to file for bankruptcy protection

Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, becoming the latest retail chain forced to restructure in the face of online and deep-discount competitors. Payless is the 10th retailer to file for bankruptcy this year. The company, facing weak sales, said in the filing that it would close nearly 400 stores, out of 4,400 in more than 30 countries, as it tries to shore up its finances and reduce its crushing debts. "This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify," W. Paul Jones, Payless chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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