Missouri Minute: Schools sue Juul; UAW puts regional official on leave

Good morning, MBA readers,

A pair of new lawsuits will pit schools near Kansas City and St. Louis against a major e-cigarette manufacturer. It’s the latest in a wave of litigation against the maker of Juul, a wildly popular e-cigarette. Critics, like the schools, say Juul made misleading health claims and marketed the nicotine-infused products to teenagers. And it’s no longer a mere public relations issue for Juul, which was once considered one of the most valuable startups in the country. Scroll down for more on this and other business stories from around the state.

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KC amusement park owner rejects $4 billion Six Flags merger offer
Cedar Fair, the Ohio-based owner of Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, has turned down a $4 billion stock-and-cash offer to merge with Six Flags. (Reuters)

KC, St. Louis schools take on e-cigarette maker
School districts in Olathe, Kansas, and St. Charles have sued Juul Labs, accusing the company of endangering students by marketing its popular e-cigarettes to teenagers. The districts are seeking unspecified monetary damages. (Reuters)

UAW puts regional Missouri official on leave
Vance Pearson, who heads the United Auto Workers’ 17-state Region 5 based in Hazelwood, has been placed on leave on Friday as he faces federal corruption charges. (Detroit Free Press)

Anheuser-Busch to distribute Florida-based sports drink brand
St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch has agreed to distribute Five Organic, a Florida-based organic sports drink brand, in exchange for a share of the profits. The deal allows the boutique brand to expand beyond local supermarkets in Florida. (South Florida Business Journal)

Missouri lawmakers to hold hearing on Medicaid expansion
The Missouri House Subcommittee on Health Care Reform will hear testimony on Medicaid expansion Tuesday afternoon. The subcommittee will submit a report to the full committee. (Missourinet)

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All eight of Missouri’s metro areas had August unemployment rates at or below the overall state rate of 3.4%, according to figures released Wednesday. St. Louis showed the greatest year-over-year improvement, with its unemployment rate decreasing to 3.3% from 3.6% a year ago.

Go figure

$16 to $19
That’s the estimated range of the share price for BellRing Brands ahead of its expected initial public offering, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The active nutrition business of Brentwood’s Post Holdings is offering 30 million shares priced between $16 and $19 a share, valuing the company at around $2.2 billion, according to new filings. BellRing, which is expected to go public this fall under the “BRBR” ticker symbol, would be the St. Louis region’s first company to launch an IPO since 2014.

Say that again

“We weren’t ready yet to make our own direct investments, so (we needed to find a partner). We had gotten to know Darcy (Howe), the diverse KCRise Fund, and their approach to investing. They’ve gotten really good returns.”

That’s H&R Block CEO Jeff Jones explaining why his company made a $2 million investment in a KCRise Fund’s latest fund, Startland News reports. For H&R Block, the investment is one way to give back to its hometown and its startup scene. Jones added that it’s a symbiotic relationship: startups need corporate funding, and corporations need startups to innovate, he said. The ex-Target executive pointed to his experience in Minneapolis as an example of how local corporations and startups can work together.

Hello, my name is

Ron Prenger
The current senior vice president and chief hospital officer of CoxHealth is slated to take the mantle of chief operating officer, the Springfield Business Journal reports. Prenger, whose new title takes effect January 2020, will fill a role that has been vacant since it was last held by President and CEO Steve Edwards. The Springfield-based hospital network has tapped Karen Kramer, the system’s chief nursing officer, to succeed Prenger, and it elevated Amanda Hedgpeth, vice president of clinical services, to the role of vice president of hospital operations.

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


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