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News Briefs for February 8, 2013

February 8, 2013

•The Charmer Sunbelt Group has announced two key executive changes within its Virginia unit, Associated Distributors LLC. Danny Tomlin, president of Associated Distributors LLC, has been appointed to the newly-created role of chief executive officer. He will be replaced in the role of president by Dale Farino, who previously served as Associated’s chief operating officer. Both appointments were effective February 1. Charmer acquired the remaining half of Associated that it didn’t already own last September.

•Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s recently introduced plan to privatize the state’s wine and spirits retail business is drawing fire from the United Food and Commercial Workers. The union says the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) retail operation provides 5,000 jobs and $600 million in taxes and profits to the state treasury, and that support for its privatization has dropped markedly in recent years. According to a recent Franklin & Marshall College poll, 53% of Pennsylvanians surveyed now viewed privatization “favorably.” Departing PLCB CEO Joe Conti told SND early last year that support for privatization was as high as 95% in the 1980s and 1990s. The fate of Corbett’s privatization push is uncertain in the Pennsylvania congress, where similar efforts have languished, most recently a bill sponsored by majority leader Mike Turzai in 2011.

Anheuser-Busch has enlisted the services of pop star Justin Timberlake as “creative director” of Bud Light Platinum. Timberlake will be in charge of providing “creative, musical and cultural curation” for the brand. The partnership will kick off at The 55th Grammy Awards this Sunday, where Timberlake will be featured in a 60-second ad called “Platinum Night,” which will also feature his newest single, “Suit & Tie.” Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. A-B has been working to align Bud Light Platinum with the music industry since its launch early last year, including using tracks by Kanye West and Avicii in previous ads.

•Landry’s Inc. has made an offer to purchase Ark Restaurant Group for $22 a share in cash, or roughly $71.3 million total. Shares of New York City-based Ark stood at $18.04 a share on the Nasdaq at closing on Wednesday, and the company’s income for its 2012 fiscal year was $5.7 million, or $1.75 a share. Ark Restaurant Group owns and operates 21 restaurants and bars, 22 quick-service concepts and catering operations in New York City, Atlantic City, Connecticut, Boston, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Houston-based Landry’s operates dozens of restaurant and entertainment concepts, and most recently purchased McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Inc. in December 2011 and Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. in February 2012.


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