Friday headlines include: Baidu applying for a banking license, Apple’s bid to permenantly ban some Samsung products failing, Safeway being merged with Albertsons, a new checking account at Bank of America and March same-store sales at Rite Aid.
In a sign that internet-connected and mobile payments are not just a growing trend in the U.S., Baidu.com (BIDU) has reportedly formed a partnership to apply several banking licenses in that country. The company’s CEO, Robin Li, said “Of the businesses the Internet will topple they naturally include finance.” He declined to reveal further details of the company’s plan.
A request by consumer electronics giant Apple (AAPL) for a permanent ban on some Samsung devices was rejected by a court Thursday. A judge said the company failed to proved that features patented by Apple were significant enough drivers of consumer demand. Another patent trial, this time involving newer Samsung devices, is set to begin later this month.
Grocery chain Safeway (SWY) is being acquired by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $9.1 billion. Cerberus plans to merger the nation’s second-largest grocer with the Albertsons chain it already owns. The combined chain will create a chain with more than 2,400 stores and 250,000 workers. Cerberus agreed to pay $40 per share for Safeway, and the agreement contains a 21-day “go-shop” period that allows the company to solicit counter offers.
Bank of America
Financial giant Bank of America (BAC) rolled out a new checking account product Thursday. The new accounts are for customers who have low balances. They will carry a monthly fee of $4.95 and will not allow overdrafts. The “Safe Balance” accounts are designed to bring in a steady stream of revenue, while getting rid of high overdraft fees that the company has been criticized for.
Drugstore chain Rite Aid (RAD) said Thursday that total sales rose by 2.4 percent in the five-week period that ended March 1. Same-store sales rose by 1.5 percent. The company’s pharmacy sales rose by 3.1 percent, offset by a 1.8 percent decline in sales of items from the rest of the store. The company said a drop in sales of over-the-counter flu products accounted for the drop.