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Error by HSBC confuses some small-business clients

A goof by HSBC Bank USA during the conversion of its small-business customers to First Niagara Financial Group resulted in confusion, as a couple of hundred businesses got letters from both banks claiming them as customers.

According to First Niagara officials, about 200 HSBC customers with business accounts that had been acquired by First Niagara received a letter from HSBC, referring to the acquisition and telling the clients they will remain HSBC customers.

The letter was dated May 21, three days after First Niagara completed its purchase of those accounts, along with 195 branches and 500,000 customers across the state.

Spokesman Oliver Hays said HSBC "has indicated this was an error on its part" and gave First Niagara a list of the customers who received the letter, so that any confusion could be cleared up.


Insurer to buy contacts firm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- WellPoint Inc. plans to buy contact lens retailer

1-800 Contacts Inc. in a deal that would give the insurer its first direct-to-consumer business outside selling individual health coverage.

Terms of the deal with private equity firm Fenway Partners were not disclosed.

WellPoint, based in Indianapolis, said Monday that the eyewear company will help diversify its revenue sources with a high-margin business. The insurer typically generates an after-tax profit margin of around 4 percent. 1-800 Contacts can generate margins in the double-digit range, said Ken Goulet, WellPoint's president of commercial and specialty companies.

In addition, he said, the business has shown robust growth, although he declined to offer specifics.

1-800 Contacts fills orders for several brands of contact lens by phone, Internet, mail or fax. It also sells eyeglasses through its website and operates a partnership with Walmart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer.


Corzine may face lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine could face a lawsuit from the trustee trying to recover $1.6 billion in customer money from the collapse of the brokerage MF Global.

James Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of the company, said in a bankruptcy court filing Monday that he may sue Corzine for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence.

Giddens said his investigation found that Corzine, who took over as MF Global CEO in March 2010, led the company to trade in unsafe securities and take on far greater risk than comparable companies did.

Corzine declined to comment through a spokesman.

Corzine, a former U.S. senator and CEO of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, took the top job at MF Global after losing a bid for re-election as New Jersey governor in 2009.


Starbucks buys bakery chain

NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks Corp. is looking to offer a more tempting menu, with a $100 million cash deal to buy a small bakery chain.

The Seattle-based coffee shop chain says baked goods from La Boulange will start replacing its current lineup early next year, starting with French pastries such as the croissant. Products will start appearing in Bay Area stores first then roll out nationally.

Starbucks also says it plans to make the San Francisco-area bakery into a national presence in the years ahead.

Food has become an important part of Starbucks' revenue stream in recent years, with the segment now generating $1.5 billion a year. About a third of the purchases in its U.S. locations include a food item.

Hortons' sales benefit camp

Proceeds from all coffee sales Wednesday at Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shops go to the Tim Horton Children's Foundation. The foundation sends more than 15,000 economically disadvantaged kids to camp each year.

Last year alone, $9.9 million was raised at more than 3,700 sites in the United States and Canada.

The foundation operates six year-round camps across North America and has served more than 175,000 kids through its programs.