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Monday A.M. Report

Medtronic to buy Italian firm Invatec, University of Phoenix edging into downtown Minneapolis, ING donating expertise to nonprofits, and General Mills hiking ad spending.

Medtronic to buy Italian firm Invatec for $350M: Medtronic is buying Invatec, an Italian company that makes stents and balloons used to open blood vessels. Fridley-based Medtronic said today it has signed an agreement to acquire Invatec for a initial payment of $350 million and additional payments of up to $150 million that will be paid as Invatec reaches certain undisclosed milestones. Invatec, founded in 1996, has about 900 employees, predominantly in Italy and Switzerland. Read full story

University of Phoenix edging into downtown with new center: University of Phoenix is expanding into downtown Minneapolis, with plans to open a 2,000-square-foot learning center this spring. Requests from students for a downtown location prompted company officials to open the facility. The company has signed a lease for space at the 701 Building on Fourth Avenue South and will start classes in late March. The for-profit University of Phoenix, which offers classes online and at brick-and-mortar classrooms, entered the Twin Cities market in 2004. Read full story

ING donating expertise to local nonprofits: ING Group is trying out a pilot program in the Twin Cities in which its local financial experts will provide free advice to area nonprofits.ING’s goal by the end of the year is to have 40 to 50 of its 900 Minneapolis-based workers helping nonprofits “better strengthen their business side” with financial, technical and management expertise, According to an ING spokesman. Memorial Blood Centers, the Minnesota AIDS Project, Second Harvest Heartland and Simpson Housing Services will be the first nonprofits to get the help. Read full story

General Mills hikes ad spending: General Mills is boosting its spending on consumer advertising by 27 percent in the first half of 2010, compared with the same period last year. The increase far outpaces the Golden Valley-based company’s 1 percent growth in net sales during the same period last year. The marketing push in both traditional media and increasingly on the Internet is a deliberate attempt by the maker of Big G cereals, Yoplait yogurts and Progresso soups to keep growing top-line sales despite the recession. Read full story