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Campbell appoints VP of corporate strategy

BY Tara Smith

CAMDEN, N.J. Campbell Soup Company, branded convenience food products, has appointed Kirk Elliott as its vice president for corporate strategy, making him responsible for the company’s strategic planning process and advancing strategic initiatives.

Elliott, who has more than 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, and line management, joins Campbell from Elliott Oriental Medicine in San Diego, a company he founded in 2005. Before that, he was at Nabisco International for eight years in business development, planning and line management. His experience with Nabisco culminated to managing director, Nabisco Taiwan, Hong Kong & Asia Export.

Elliott also will oversee the company’s licensing program and will report to Carl Johnson, Campbell’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer.

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Court upholds Judge’s ruling, opts not to delay Whole Foods/Wild Oats deal

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled in favor of Whole Foods Market’s bid to buy rival organic grocer Wild Oats Markets, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a request by the Federal Trade Commission to delay the $565 million sale pending the outcome of an appeal. Whole Foods lawyers argued that such a ruling would have killed the deal.

On Friday, Aug. 17, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman refused to block the transaction, a decision that the FTC appealed before noon the following Monday. They claimed that if the two companies combine, it would result in less competition and higher prices for premium and organic food.

The appeals court, in a brief ruling, agreed that the FTC “raised some questions” about the deal, but the judges said the agency had not proven that Friedman’s decision was flawed.

Representatives from the FTC did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Whole Foods officials have said they would move at the first opportunity to close the deal. The company’s tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Wild Oats stock expires Monday.

“We are pleased to have cleared what we expect to be our last legal hurdle,” Whole Foods chairman and chief executive officer John Mackey said in a statement. “We look forward to closing this merger and believe the synergies gained from this combination will create long-term value for our customers, vendors and shareholders as well as exciting opportunities for our new and existing team members.”

The appeals court agreed Monday to delay the transaction so that it could consider additional information. Its ruling Thursday came just hours after the FTC was expected to file its final brief in the case, according to the Associated Press.

Whole Foods has completed 18 successful acquisitions in the past 27 years. The company’s Web site states that approximately 25 percent of its current sales stem from stores it has acquired and 75 percent from those it has opened.

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Nestle expects growth in bottled water brands

BY Tara Smith

VEVEY, Switzerland Nestle SA is expecting U.S. volume growth in its bottled water brands to improve over the next few months compared to last year, with some help from innovation and tropical weather.

Kim Jeffery, chief executive of Nestle Waters North America, noted on Tuesday that the lack of hurricanes last year did not spark disaster-related demand for bottled water, affecting sales. Considering the damage Hurricane Dean left in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is seems this hurricane season could help drive demand.

Jeffery also announced the company is developing new brand line extensions, noting that they will follow along the popular trend of “functionality,” by adding vitamins or minerals to the beverages. “You can expect us to be extending these brands in some fashion in the coming years,” Jeffery said. “Most likely in 2009.”

Bottled water enhanced with functional ingredients have become the latest driving force in the beverage industry, especially since Coke paid $4.1 billion to acquire Glaceau, maker of VitaminWater, in June. According to Beverage Digest, sales of bottled water increased 11 percent in the first half of 2007.

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