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General Mills trading cute for frugal; also: Wells Fargo chairman to stick around, and TCF, US Bank join bailout

Shoppers aren’t the only ones getting frugal these days. General Mills managers have become “cereal cost cutters,” writes Fortune magazine. The Golden Valley-based food company has cut the number of pasta and pretzel shapes it uses. “Was it cute that the pretzels in our Hot ‘n Spicy Chex Mix spelled H-O-T?,” said one exec. “Sure, it was cute, but we had 14 different pretzel shapes. By getting rid of some of them, we save $1 million a year.”

Wells Fargo chairman Dick Kovacevich will get to stick around a bit past his mandatory retirement age of 65. Wells Fargo said Monday that it will temporarily waive the age-limit rule so that Kovacevich can help oversee the bank’s integration with Wachovia Corp.

Add TCF and U.S. Bank to the list of institutions participating in the federal government’s financial bailout. Both banks said Monday are approved to sell a chunk of preferred stock to taxpayers. U.S. Bank will get a $6.6 billion investment from Uncle Sam, while TCF will get $361 million. The Pioneer Press reports that Minnesota’s four largest banks are getting a combined $34 billion government investment.

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