Welcome to the Nov. 20 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Analyst: Humana could be preparing for another merger

Humana’s stock chart since Nov. 3. | Screenshot from Yahoo! Finance.

A health care insurance analyst said that Humana’s recent sale of its long-term care insurance business could signal that the Louisville-based company is preparing for another merger attempt.

Ana Gupte, industry analyst at Leerink Partners, said Humana’s move mirrors that of Aetna, which in October said it was selling businesses including its group life and disability insurance, and then said that it planned to merge with CVS Health.

Gupte said that with its moves to dump its long-term care insurance business and cut 2,700 jobs, Humana was “‘trimming the fat’ in preparation for a bigger deal, potentially with Cigna or Express Scripts,” according to Modern Healthcare.

Humana said Nov. 6 that it was cutting jobs to prepare for 2018, when it leaves the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Shares fell nearly 7 percent two days later when the Louisville-based insurer said that third-quarter revenue fell 3 percent and that profit growth was impeded by costs of $78.5 million associated with the job cuts.

Modern Healthcare said the health insurance industry is in flux, with leadership shakeups at Anthem and UnitedHealth Group and insurers inking deals with prescription drug benefits companies.

Investors have not reacted well to Humana’s recent announcements: Since Nov. 3, the insurer’s shares have fallen nearly 9 percent, to about $257. The S&P 500 during that span has declined only about 0.25 percent. Meanwhile, rival Anthem’s shares are up about 4.5 percent. —Boris Ladwig

New downtown hotel planned at former Seven Counties Services headquarters

A developer wants to transform this building into a hotel. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

The former headquarters of Seven Counties Services, now Centerstone, may very well be the latest site in downtown Louisville to be transformed into a hotel, pending city approvals.

According to Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, plans were filed Friday for a proposed hotel that would be constructed in the existing building, located at 101 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. A company called Shiv Krupa Motel Inc. bought the property for $2.9 million in June.

Insider reached out to Girish Patel, the owner of Shiv Krupa Motel, for more information about the proposed hotel but did not hear back.

According to a planning document submitted to the city, the developer plans to add a fifth floor to the building, and the hotel will include a small patio and bar area, but no other details, including the number of rooms or brand of hotel, are provided. —Caitlin Bowling

Study says arts and culture generates $463 million in local economic activity

Louisville loves and supports its local arts and culture and the investment pays huge dividends, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study.

The study found that Greater Louisville’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $462.5 million in annual economic activity.

That supports the equivalent of 17,529 full-time jobs and pours $21,413,000 in local and state government revenue, according to Fund for the Arts and Arts & Culture Alliance, which released the findings on Friday.

“We have long known that the arts fuel our regional economy but Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 provides compelling evidence that our arts and culture industry is an economic powerhouse,” said Christen Boone, Fund for the Arts president and chief executive, in the release.

Drilling down further, the report found that nonprofit cultural organizations spent $224.6 million during fiscal year 2015 to employ people, buy goods and services and attract tourists.

What’s more, the cultural audiences spent $237.9 million, pumping money into restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, and other local businesses.

“It is clear that arts and culture are fueling our regional economy in a tremendous way,” said Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, Greater Louisville Inc. chief operating officer, said in the release.

Nationwide, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity every year.

“A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and chief executive of Americans for the Arts, in the release.—Mickey Meece

Yum! Brands board approves $1.5 billion stock repurchase

Louisville-based Yum! Brands’ board of directors last week authorized the repurchase of as much as $1.5 billion in shares of its common stock through the end of 2018.

“This is in addition to the prior outstanding authorization. The anticipated share repurchases are part of Yum! Brands’ commitment to return significant capital to shareholders,” the company said in a news release about the decision.

In May 2016, Yum’s board approved the repurchase of up to $4.2 billion worth of common stock. The 2016 approval was part of Yum’s commitment to returning $6.2 billion of capital to shareholders before it spun off its China business. —Caitlin Bowling

Rehab center to become senior living facility

The new facility will open about a year from now. | Courtesy of Dominion Senior Living

A Tennessee-based senior living developer and management firm has purchased the former Glenview Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center near U.S. 42 and Interstate 264 for $2.8 million.

Dominion Senior Living plans to invest $5 million to transform the building, located at 6000 Hunting Road, into a 42,000-square-foot 24-hour assisted living and memory care community called Dominion Senior Living at Northfield. The building will have 41 assisted living and 20 memory care apartments and create 50 new jobs, according to the company.

Construction is expected to start in December and wrap up in fall 2018.

“Our mission is to honor God through the service to seniors, and we felt a calling to open a senior living community in Louisville,” Mark Taylor, president of Dominion Senior Living said in a news release. “This is the first time we aren’t starting from the ground up. We plan to renovate the current building and turn it into a peaceful community that seniors in the Louisville area can call home. Every detail of the community is carefully considered and designed with the help of experts to offer a safe, secure and peaceful environment.”

The community will offer therapy and wellness program, daily activities, medication management, on-site physician services, dining rooms, workout facilities, a salon and indoor and outdoor courtyards with picnic areas and games. —Caitlin Bowling

Kroger gets low marks for use of toxic chemicals

Kroger received a D- from advocacy group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which rates 30 major retailers on their use of toxic chemicals in packaging and products.

The company has taken “action to address toxic chemicals in the products it sells but still has much room for improvement,” the organization said in its report.

Kroger should approve a safer chemicals policy and set quantifiable goals for reducing or eliminating certain chemicals, including eliminating phthalates in food and BPA and in PFAS in food packaging, the group said. Since last year, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families noted, Kroger has reducing the use of BPA in canned foods liners and is working with stakeholders on a chemicals policy.

Apple, Walmart, CVS, IKEA, Whole Foods Market and Target received the top scores, earning a B+ or higher. —Caitlin Bowling

GE Appliances products now available through Wayfair

GE Appliances hopes to reach new customers through a partnership with the online retailer Wayfair.

Wayfair is offering GEA products in 25 cities, with nationwide rollout expected early next year. The online retailer offers products from some GEA competitors, such as Frigidaire, but not from others, including Samsung, LG and Whirlpool.

Wayfair’s appliance section prominently features GE Appliances products. | Screenshot

Lauren Whitsell, general manager of GEA’s sales operations, said in a press release, “Wayfair has invested in a platform that brings our products to life digitally, and we look forward to reaching new consumers with our brand and a world class digital experience.”

GEA declined to comment on sales goals.

Steve Oblak, chief merchandising officer for Wayfair, said that the partnership will “(bring) to life a new retail experience.”

“From viewing items in their homes before they buy, to exploring every aspect of an appliance through sharp 3-D imagery, to a best-in-class delivery experience, our priority is to delight our customers with cutting-edge solutions that make it easier to shop for home, from home,” Oblak said.

Two-day delivery is available in most markets, the companies said. —Boris Ladwig

Leadership Louisville plans grand opening for its new home in January

Classroom rendering | Image courtesy of Leadership Louisville

Officials at Leadership Louisville announced on Friday that renovations on its new two-story home at 707 W. Main St. were nearing completion, and that it planned a grand opening in January.

Leadership Louisville bought the space in October 2016 for $775,000 and started a $3 million fundraising campaign for the first phase of renovations. Hundreds of donors helped the nonprofit reach its initial target, the group said on Friday.

All Leadership Green Room courses in 2018 will be hosted in the new classroom space, which features natural light, modern technology and unique glass architectural features.

Phase 2 of the project will reclaim green space behind the building to create a park plaza, the organization said, adding that it was raising an undisclosed amount for the next phase. The design for the space is inspired by the award-winning High Line park in New York, it said.

“It is a rare opportunity to find space on a prime corner of the downtown with street-level presence, windows on three sides with views of the Ohio River and Fort Nelson Park, access to green space for outdoor training sessions and close proximity to hotels and after-hours activities for out-of-town participants,” said Holly Prather, vice president in the release. —Mickey Meece

In Brief

PriceWeber has created an interactive website for the Kentucky Science Center, kysciencecenter.org. “We wanted to capture the fun and wonder of the Kentucky Science Center,” said Mike Nickerson, chief marketing officer for PriceWeber, said in a release. The team incorporated the center’s iconic parabolic mirror into the homepage to create a lasting first impression, he added.

The University of Louisville has won a $580,000 federal grant to train more cybersecurity experts. The grant, from the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, will help fund programs at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business.

SmartBox, a dental marketing company, plans to add 100 employees to its New Albany, Ind., headquarters, which employs about 80.

The 2017 National RV Trade Show returns to Louisville on Nov. 27-30 at the Kentucky Exposition Center to showcase the $27 billion-dollar industry. The association behind the 20-year-old Go RVing brand says it is the world’s largest RV trade show and that RV popularity is “soaring to an all-time high.”

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