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VOL. 133 | NO. 113 | Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Daily Digest

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Fred’s Completes Sale Of Specialty Pharmacy Unit

Memphis-based Fred’s Inc. has completed the sale of its specialty pharmacy unit, EntrustRx, to CVS Health Corp.

Fred’s and CVS closed the deal Monday, June 4, a month after the company’s reached a definitive agreement for the sale. CVS paid $40 million cash, and will also pay an amount equal to the value of EntrustRx’s inventory up to $5.5 million.

“We are pleased to conclude the sale of EntrustRx, an important step in our plans to monetize non-core assets as part of our broader turnaround efforts,” Fred’s interim CEO Joe Anto said in a statement. “The cash proceeds will allow us to pay down a significant portion of our debt and also be used for general corporate purposes.”

Fred’s advisers for the EntrustRx sale were Covington Associates and Bass, Berry & Sims.

The sale comes amid turmoil at Fred’s, which has seen the value of its shares (Nasdaq: FRED) drop dramatically over the past year. The stock was trading at $1.67 Tuesday morning, June 5. It has dropped 60 percent since January and nearly 90 percent since last June.

The company also has seen high turnover in its corporate ranks as it works to reverse a prolonged drop in sales. Three C-suite executives left Fred’s in April, including CEO Michael Bloom, who had been in the position less than two years. His departure led to Anto’s appointment as interim CEO.

Anto laid out a broad turnaround strategy during the company’s annual presentation in early May. Along with the EntrustRx sale, Fred’s is exploring different options for its retail pharmacy portfolio, according to Anto. It also could sell “significant portions” of its real estate portfolio, he added.

Fred’s is scheduled to report earnings for the first quarter ended May 5 on Thursday, June 14.

– Daily News staff

Kansas City Royals Pick Tigers’ Bowlan in 2nd Round

University of Memphis junior right-handed pitcher Jonathan Bowlan was selected in the second round of the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals Monday, June 4.

Bowlan was taken with the No. 58 overall pick, making him the Tigers’ second-highest draft pick in program history.

Bowlan made 14 starts this season, recording a 3.71 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched. He became the first Tiger since 2013 to record 100 strikeouts in a season.

Earlier this season, he set the Memphis and American Athletic Conference record with 18 strikeouts in a complete-game win over USF. The 18 strikeouts, all of which were swinging, are the most by a pitcher in a Division I game this season.

In his three-year Memphis career, Bowlan struck out 211 batters in 224 innings and recorded a 3.90 ERA.

Bowlan is the Tigers highest draft pick since Dave Anderson was selected with the No. 22 overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.

A second-generation Tiger, Bowlan’s father, Mark, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 19th round of the 1989 draft. Mark Bowlan pitched at Memphis from 1987 to 1989 and threw the only perfect game in program history, against Louisville in 1987.

– Don Wade

Hallmark Channel to Shoot Holiday Film at Graceland

Hallmark Channel is heading to Graceland to shoot a holiday film next month.

Country music singer and 2018 Daytime Emmy Award nominee Kellie Pickler is set to star in “Christmas at Graceland,” which begins production July 9.

The holiday film features music made famous by Elvis Presley, according to the Hallmark Channel, which will air it as part of its “Countdown to Christmas” event.

Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Graceland Holdings, is among the executive producers, along with Pickler, Corey Salter, Marc Rosen and J.J. Jamieson. The film is a Crown Media Family Networks production, and the teleplay is written by Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer.

Pickler stars as Laurel, a Chicago-based business executive who travels to Memphis to secure one of the city’s oldest family-owned banks. While in Memphis, she reunites with an old flame Clay, a local music promoter with loftier aspirations. Though Laurel tries to keep her eye on the prize of the business acquisition, Clay reminds her of the days when they were a performing duo.

Memphis & Shelby County Film Commissioner Linn Sitler welcomed Hallmark Channel back to the city.

“Our last Hallmark movie, John Grisham’s award-winning ‘A Painted House,’ was such high quality and so enjoyable,” Sitler said in a statement. “We love the opportunity to show off our local crew and talent – and our great locations: Graceland and Memphis – and at Christmas.”

Tennessee Entertainment Commission executive director Bob Raines added the film “will highlight our state’s musical heritage and introduce this amazing, historic home to a new generation of fans.”

– Daily News staff

Commission Takes First Vote On Property Tax Rate Cut

Shelby County commissioners voted 8-0 Monday, June 4, in favor of a county property tax rate of $4.05 for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Commissioners Turner, Burgess and Willie Brooks abstained on the first reading vote, which automatically advances the measure to second and third readings regardless of the vote count under the commission’s rules.

County Mayor Mark Luttrell has proposed dropping the current $4.11 rate to $4.05, estimating it should eliminate the $20 million windfall the county got from the recertified property tax rate based on the 2017 countywide reappraisal of property, with a 1-cent reduction beyond that.

Commissioners also approved county funding of $518,160 from the county’s reserves in the current fiscal year as what commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer described as “seed money” toward an opioid addiction treatment plan.

The plan with the Shelby County Health Department and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center includes a contract with UTHSC not to exceed $2 million for a year to establish an Addiction Medicine Network.

The county startup funding would start immediately and automatically flow into the new fiscal year next month to begin hiring counselors and others for the program to provide wrap-around services for those addicted to opioids.

“We are tracking so a year or two down the line we can look at the cost of addiction and what we invested and return on investment on that,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, health department director. “If this works with opioids, how do we apply the model to other addictions? It’s really testing the model – a more integrated model. We anticipate being eligible for federal grants.”

Dr. David Stern of the UTHSC pilot program said the treatment program would include those now at the county corrections center, and some of those addicted who have private health insurance that doesn’t cover such treatment could also be included under different funding than what was approved Monday.

– Bill Dries

Tenn. Shakespeare Company Receives $25,000 Grant

Tennessee Shakespeare Company has received a matching grant award of $25,000 from Arts Midwest for its 2018 Romeo and Juliet Project, marking the fifth time the Memphis organization has won the award.

The grant was among $1 million Arts Midwest awarded to 40 nonprofit, professional theater companies across 27 states and Washington, D.C., to perform the works of William Shakespeare for students through Shakespeare in American Communities.

During the 2018 Romeo and Juliet Project, Tennessee Shakespeare Company will perform “Romeo and Juliet” nearly 30 times in more than 20 Memphis-area high schools and teach more than 700 in-school sessions for a total of 23,000 student interactions with a curriculum-based, classical play that teaches compassion, nonviolence and articulation.

TSC will partner with Shelby County Schools, the Germantown Municipal School District, the Collierville Municipal School District, charter schools, and private schools to engage ninth-grade students interactively with classical text that is part of the state’s core language arts curriculum.

The awards mark the 16th consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Each of the participating theater companies will present productions of Shakespeare plays to students from 10 or more schools.

Performances will start this August and continue through next May, and accompanying educational activities include in-school residencies, workshops and post-performance discussions.

– Don Wade

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028