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Wells Fargo wins fight for Wachovia; also: Target.com sees fewer clicks, and Imation hurt by IT spending cuts

Citigroup tells Wells Fargo: Fine, you can can have Wachovia. We don’t even want it anymore. But we’ll see you in court anyway. Citigroup’s bid to buy part of the struggling Wachovia bank last week was disrupted when Wells Fargo announced it would buy all of Wachovia for $15 billion. The government tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal that would make everyone happy. Now, Citigroup says it won’t try to block the deal, but it will go forward with a lawsuit seeking $60 billion in damages from Wachovia and Wells Fargo.

More Wells Fargo: The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog speculates that Wells Fargo may escape the legal fight without a scratch. That’s because of a clause slipped into the federal bailout bill. It essentially waves liability for banks that acquire other banks that were part of exclusivity agreements with somebody else. (A mouthful, I know.) One expert tells the WSJ: The provision “has the fingerprints of an extremely smart banking lawyer.”

Target.com saw “dismal” traffic in September, though not as bad as its competitor Wal-Mart. Web traffic tracker Compete.com examined trends at the two stores’ websites last month. Unique visitor traffic fell 6 percent at Target.com and 8 percent at Walmart.com. Target attracted the most unique visitors to its apparel pages, and Wal-Mart won the most eyes in the electronics category.

Imation is the latest Minnesota company bracing for disappointing results this quarter. The Oakdale company said Thursday it expects an operating loss of $8 million to $10 million. CEO Frank Russomanno said recent financial turmoil has disrupted IT spending on the company’s tape products. But he said Imation is strong enough to weather the economic weakness and it’s sticking with its long-term strategies. The company’s stock price fell 5.75 percent on Thursday.

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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