My four favorite leaders of the week so far (and it’s only Wednesday morning):
|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|
–Stefano Pessina, 74-year-old billionaire CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which yesterday agreed to buy Rite-Aid for $9.4 billion, not counting assumed debt. Pessina has spent his career building an empire, starting from his family’s pharmaceutical wholesaler in Naples. Unlike some assemblers of corporate giants, he has put significant sums of his own money at risk in his deals and today owns about 15% of Walgreens Boots Alliance. The usual pattern in mega-mergers is that the target company’s stock goes up and the buyer’s stock goes down – because buyers so often overpay. But in this case, even though Pessina paid a fat 48% premium to Rite-Aid’s pre-deal share price, both stocks went up. Whether he overpaid remains to be seen, but it’s refreshing that Wall Street thinks he did not. Oh, and I like that he lives in Monte Carlo, enabling one to call him a Monegasque, a deluxe word that one rarely gets to use.
–Jimmy Morales, president-elect of Guatemala. We’ve got outsider candidates in the U.S. but no one like Morales, a TV comedian who ran on the disarming slogan “Not corrupt, not a thief.” He won in a landslide Sunday with 67% of the vote. Now he must govern, and though he hasn’t yet been inaugurated, he has belatedly begun announcing policy positions. The first is that he won’t appoint retired army officers to any cabinet post other than defense minister – a logical anti-corruption step in a country where the army has been implicated in deep-rooted government corruption for the past 50 years. His story has been a happy one so far, but there’s nothing funny, and there’s a lot that’s dangerous, about actually fighting corruption in a thoroughly corrupt environment.
-REI chief Jerry Stritzke, who will close all his company’s 143 stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. This is terrific leadership in every way. The free publicity is already worth way more than whatever revenue REI is giving up. His message to consumers – instead of hurling yourself into a mad frenzy of spending, enjoy the great outdoors – expresses a value that everyone can embrace while obviously serving his company’s interest. The move emphasizes that REI is a cooperative, owned by customers, and needn’t serve outside investors. And while employees won’t be working on Black Friday, Stritzke will pay them for it. Sheer genius.
-House Speaker John Boehner, who has negotiated a near-certain deal to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling for almost two years. He thus takes the issue off the table for the presidential election and eliminates a guaranteed migraine for his presumed successor, Paul Ryan. The deal infuriated conservative members whose opposition forced Boehner to announce his resignation earlier, but now that he’ll be gone at the end of this week, he really doesn’t care. If all goes as expected, the deal will be a generous parting gift to Ryan, though Boehner, with his political career over, was under no obligation to do anything.
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What We're Reading Today
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Walgreens to buy Rite-Aid for $9.4 billion
The deal, which will increase Walgreens' footprint by half, will help the company price drugs lower, in an attempt to fight off Walmart and online pharmacies. It's the first major move in Stefano Pessina's tenure as CEO; he took the helm in July. Reuters
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