Wells Fargo buying Wachovia after all; also: Downloads threaten Best Buy video game sales, and researcher says Cheerios might calm portfolio

The next stage for Wells Fargo? Taking over a troubled competitor and surging overnight to become one of the nation’s largest financial institutions. Wells Fargo will pay $15.4 billion for Wachovia, which was on the brink of being sold to Citigroup in a government-assisted deal. In a surprise announcement early this morning, Wells Fargo and Wachovia said they’ve agreed on merger that does not involve any government funds. The combined bank will hold about $1.4 trillion in assets. (More from WSJ, AP.) Wells Fargo has about 20,000 employees in Minnesota, the second-largest private employer in the state according to the latest Business Journal rankings.

Will new downloading services spell “Game Over” for Best Buy’s video game sales? The retailer’s stock fell 5.8 percent Thursday after an analyst warned a new Nintendo platform poses a “tangible early threat” to physical game systems, the Associated Press reports. Nintendo’s latest handheld system, DSi, was unveiled in Japan on Wednesday. It allows users to purchase games at an online store and download them in about 10 minutes using a broadband connection.

More Best Buy: The retailer’s latest store, designed with women in mind, opened last weekend in suburban Denver, the Associated Press reports. The company asked 40 local female customers to help generate ideas for the store, which is carpeted in blue and earth tones and partially lit with skylights. Televisions and other appliances are placed in model rooms. The “home theater” section is called “family room,” and there are free diapers in the changing room.

Stomach upset from watching your financial stocks’ performance? Ockham Research suggests Cheerios might be a less stressful investment. The company spotlights General Mills on its blog today, calling it a defensive stock for turbulent times: “Consumers are going out to eat less these days and General Mills has been a major beneficiary of this trend.”

Do you have an inside scoop or news tip about a Minnesota company? Spotted something interesting in your RSS reader? Drop Business Agenda a note at dhaugen [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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