Dollar General (DG) Counters With Rival Bid for Family Dollar (FDO)

Morning Money Memo:

A bidding war is heating up for the struggling discount retailer Family Dollar, and big bucks are involved.

Dollar General has made a proposal to acquire Family Dollar for $78.50 per share, or about $9.7 billion. The all-cash bid is more generous than a rival offer made last month by Dollar Tree, worth $74.50 a share.

"For Family Dollar shareholders, our proposal is financially superior to the current transaction agreement with Dollar Tree and would provide Family Dollar shareholders with a substantial premium and immediate liquidity for their shares," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's CEO. Neither Dollar Tree nor Family Dollar has commented on the new bid. Dollar General's share price rose 9 percent this morning. A merger could lead to more intense competition for Walmart, which also serves lower and middle-income consumers.

In a bid to revive sales, Target plans to keep more than half its stores open until midnight most days of the week. The extended hours will continue from this month through the holiday shopping season and will then be reassessed. Target has suffered from a recent sales decline. "Ten and 11 p.m. aren't peak times for shopping, but Target is betting that enough people will show up to make it worth keeping the lights on and registers open," reports The Wall Street Journal.

The stock market is gaining ground with a rise for futures this morning. The U.S. economy and stocks are holding up well despite a grim summer in much of the world. Europe appears on the brink of another recession with the crisis over Ukraine and Russia. Israel's war in Gaza, the ISIS advance in Iraq and worries about a real estate bubble in China are adding to global concerns.

But U.S. stock market averages are up for the year, most global corporations have reported strong earnings, and the employment market has improved with new job creation up nearly 15 percent compared with last year

China's government is cracking down on Mercedes-Benz, saying the carmaker violated anti-monopoly law and charged excessive prices for parts. A growing number of global automakers have been snared in an investigation of the industry. China's Xinhua News Agency says the luxury unit of Germany's Daimler AG abused its control over supplies of spare parts to engage in "vertical price-fixing."

Leading patient groups say insurance companies are beginning to find ways around anti-discrimination provisions that are a central goal of the nation's health care law. The insurance industry says critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there's reason to be concerned. More than 300 patient advocacy groups recently wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to complain about some insurer tactics that "are highly discriminatory" and may violate the law.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow