Missouri Minute: Judge reduces Roundup verdict; Ameren scraps planned wind farm

Good morning, MBA readers,

With the go-ahead from the Justice Department, Sprint and T-Mobile have cleared one of the last major hurdles to their $26.5 billion merger. Plus, rural bank presidents are growing weary of the Trump administration’s trade feuds with China. Meanwhile, Monsanto’s parent firm Bayer can breathe a little easier knowing that it only has to pay a fraction of a $2 billion jury verdict in one of the thousands of Roundup lawsuits it faces. Read on for more Missouri business news to help start your workweek off right.

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Judge cuts $2 billion Roundup verdict to $86 million
A California judge has reduced a $2 billion jury verdict against Bayer to $86.7 million, slashing the award for a couple who blamed Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer for their cancer. The judge said the jury’s billion-dollar punitive damage awards were excessive and unconstitutional. (Reuters)

Ameren scraps planned wind farm in northwest Missouri
Ameren Missouri has scrapped plans for a 157-megawatt wind farm in Atchison County because it would be too costly to make the necessary transmission improvements. The company still plans to move forward with another 300-megawatt wind farm in Atchison County and a 400-megawatt facility in Adair and Schuyler counties. (Associated Press)

Panera inks franchise deal
Sunset Hills-based Panera Bread has signed a multiyear agreement allowing Maryland’s HMSHost to open standalone Panera stores at airports and travel plazas around the country. The first HMSHost franchises will open next year. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis-area bank sells for $76 million
First National Bank in Staunton, Illinois, has sold to Wisconsin-based Associated Banc-Corp for $76.3 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Disaster agencies offer legal aid to Missouri residents
Residents in 20 Missouri counties affected by the recent storms and floods are eligible for legal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency. Lawyers are available to help secure government benefits and provide counseling on tenant issues and foreclosures. (Columbia Missourian)

Support for Trump’s trade war wanes among rural banks
A survey of rural bank presidents in 10 states, including Missouri, found rising concern about trade tensions and pressure on agriculture and local economies. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Tornado, flood repairs could cost Missouri $13 million
Repairs to state government facilities damaged by recent tornadoes and flooding could cost nearly $13 million, $9.4 million of which would go toward the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. Officials are considering whether the historic prison, which no longer holds prisoners, is worth salvaging for tourists. (Associated Press)

KC real estate firm raises $4 million for Opportunity Zone fund
Maxus Properties has raised about $4 million for the Maxus NoDa Opportunity Fund out of a $27 million total offering. The minimum investment is set at $250,000. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Wash U taps startup founder for entrepreneurship program
Washington University has hired Doug Villhard, co-founder and president of audience engagement at the Second Street software firm, as academic director for entrepreneurship and professor of practice at the Olin Business School. He replaces Cliff Holekamp, who retired from the school this summer. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Go figure

$5 billion
That’s how much Dish Network will pay Sprint and T-Mobile for divested assets as part of an antitrust agreement announced Friday. Dish will get Sprint’s Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and other prepaid phone businesses. T-Mobile will sell 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail stores. The U.S. Department of Justice said the agreement is a necessary step before Sprint and T-Mobile’s proposed $26.5 billion merger, which critics say will reduce competition in the market. The companies still face a lawsuit from 13 state attorneys general before the deal can be finalized.

Say that again

“A long-term success story could mean that the startup is going to be around for 10 years. It doesn’t have to be a company that we think is going to be sold in 36 months.”

That’s Karen Fenaroli, founder and CEO of the Kansas City-based investment and consulting firm Fenaroli & Associates. Her firm runs the Fenaroli Minerva Fund, which has backed startups such as Kansas City’s Bellwethr and Risk Genius. In an interview with Startland News, Fenaroli explained her investment philosophy and what she’d like to see in the Kansas City startup scene. Spoiler alert: She wants 10 more accelerators in the city and hinted of at least two that are in the works.

Hello, my name is

Ronnoco Beverage Solutions
Formerly known as Ronnoco Coffee, the St. Louis-based company has grown its reach to 41 states after recent acquisitions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The company has doubled the capacity of its St. Louis facility with five new packaging lines, expanded coffee storage and eight new employees at the plant and warehouse. Though coffee has been at the core of Ronnoco since its start at the 1904 World’s Fair, coffee only makes up 50% of its business. Today, Ronnoco’s product line includes tea, smoothies and condiments.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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