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Reckitt Benckiser appoints new regulatory affairs director

BY CSA STAFF

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Reckitt Benckiser has appointed Suzanne LoGalbo as the new regulatory affairs director for Reckitt Benckiser North America.

LoGalbo joins RB from Pfizer Consumer Health. While at Pfizer, LoGalbo most recently held the position of global regulatory portfolio lead worldwide regulatory strategy. Prior to Pfizer, Suzanne was the head of global regulatory affairs North America for Novartis Consumer Health. She has also held regulatory leadership roles at Polaris, Solvay, Arganon and Sandoz.

LoGalbo brings with her significant global and North American leadership experience in the regulatory environment, including Rx-to-OTC switches, compliance, government relations and global new product development rollouts within the consumer health space.

At RB, the U.S. and Canadian regulator teams will now report to LoGalbo, the company stated.

LoGalbo holds a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University School of Law and holds a BS in pharmaceutical studies.

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Gillette, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews kick off online debate

BY CSA STAFF

BOSTON — Gillette and its brand ambassador and Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews have kicked off an online debate forum on Gillette’s Facebook page.

With the NFL playoffs just around the corner, NFL fans are invited to show their passion and knowledge of the game for a chance to win weekly prizes and a grand prize trip to Super Bowl XLVII.

Through a series of various online videos, brand ambassador and Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews invites fans to present their best case on some of the NFL’s most debated topics. In addition to having a weekly popular winner, to be determined by number of fan votes, Matthews will ultimately have the final say on whose answer wins the top prize: a trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, La.

“Because you don’t have to be a professional commentator to debate your favorite NFL topics, we’re inviting fans to go head-to-head and prove to us who really knows their stuff,” said Matthews.

Sponsored by Procter & Gamble, the contest will run from now through Jan. 13, 2013. NFL fans can join the debate and track their progress up the leaderboard on Gillette’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/gillette) as they voice their opinions on topics that cover everything from teams, players, plays and coaches.

“As the Official Shave of the NFL, Gillette is very excited to open up a forum for fans across the country to engage with one another and discuss the sport they love,” said Elliott Wilke, brand manager, Gillette. “With Super Bowl XLVII tickets on the line, plus a host of other great prizes, the game is on the line for fans as they debate what they think is the best in the NFL.”

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Costco gives shareholders a special gift

BY CSA STAFF

Costco will pay a $7 a share special dividend before year end as it looks to return cash to shareholders in advance of what is expected to be a 2013 tax increase on dividend payments.

The total payout will amount to about $3 billion and is extraordinarily generous. Especially considering Costco’s net cash provided by operating activities for its fiscal year ended September 2, was only slightly more than $3 billion and cash, cash equivalents and short term investments totaled $4.854 billion.

The payout also is somewhat ironic considering Costco founder and board member Jim Sinegal was an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama’s re-election and the view that millionaires and billionaires can afford to pay more in taxes to help the nation avoid going over the fiscal cliff. Now, Costco is helping shareholders who meet the administration’s definition of wealth avoid paying the increased taxes Sinegal indicated were fair during the election by rushing to pay a special dividend before a rates increase kicks in. Costco currently offers a relatively modest dividend yield with a $1.03 annual payout and a share price hovering around $100.

In explaining the rational for the $7 special dividend, Costco CFO Richard Galanti did not mention the imminent tax increase as a motivating factor but alluded to the possibility that credit markets would be accessed to provide funding.

"Today’s announcement of a $7 special dividend, to be paid before the end of the calendar year, is our latest effort in returning capital to our shareholders while maintaining our conservative capital structure," Galanti said. "Our strong balance sheet and favorable access to the credit markets allow us to provide shareholders with this dividend, while also preserving financial and operational flexibility to grow our business globally; allowing for ongoing dividend and share repurchase activities; and enhancing the value of the Costco membership to the more than 67 million Costco cardholders throughout the world."

Disclosure of the dividend was made in conjunction with the release of monthly sales and interestingly follows a telephone conversation Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said he had with President Obama on Saturday, November 17. Jelinek said the conversation was part of the administration’s outreach to the business community to discuss current economic conditions and fiscal policy issues.

"I expressed strong support for the President’s efforts to reach a compromise with Congress before the end of the year that avoids any tax increase on middle class taxpayers," Jelinek said. "Costco employs over 115,000 workers in the U.S., most of whom are middle class family wage earners. Likewise, the small businesses that make up the bulk of our business members employ thousands of working people who have borne the brunt of the recession. Now, with signs pointing to a modest economic recovery, it would be a particular burden on those working families to face higher income taxes."

Jelinek said he encouraged the President to continue working with Congressional leadership to find a balanced solution to the deficit that will avoid middle class tax increases and that it was imperative both sides of the aisle compromise to eliminate uncertainty and allow for continued economic recovery.

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