WAL-MART HEALTH KICK: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., under fire from labor groups for its treatment of 1.3 million U.S. workers, said Monday that next month it will make health care coverage available to more than 150,000 part-time employees after they have worked one year for the company, instead of two. "Covering part-time employees is not the norm," said Susan Chambers, executive vice president. "But every American deserves health care and we want to lead by taking this step." Other changes to Wal-Mart's benefits package include an expanded list of $3 generic prescriptions and a 10 percent discount on healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.

CHEROKEE STEPS IN: Cherokee Inc. on Monday submitted a competing bid against Iconix Brand Group to acquire Mossimo Inc. for about $135 million in cash and shares. Cherokee, based in Van Nuys, Calif., offered $6 in cash and $2.50 in shares in a move to create a diverse portfolio of licensed brands. The proposal represents a 9 percent premium to Mossimo's closing share price of $7.81 on April 17 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, and a 13 percent premium to the $119 million offer that New York's Iconix made on April 3. With unanimous approval from its board, Cherokee sent a letter dated April 17 to Mossimo Giannulli, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Mossimo, and Edwin Lewis, vice chairman and co-ceo.

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