Heinz and Kraft merges in a mega-deal, Google gets a new CFO and Chase causes a Lollapalooza of a snafu. Read about these and more of the day's top business news stories.
Morgan Stanley CFO to Google
Google has lured away Ruth Porat, 58, Morgan Stanley's chief financial officer, to be its CFO, the Associated Press reports. The appointment announced Tuesday comes at a sensitive time when the Internet search leader and its Silicon Valley peers are under fire for hiring and promoting too few women. Google's CFO of the past seven years, Patrick Pichette, announced his plans to retire earlier this month. Porat will become Google's highest-ranking female executive when she starts her new job on May 26.
Heinz, Kraft to Merge
Add more varieties to H.J. Heinz, which will merge with Kraft Foods Group on a mega-deal announced Wednesday. The merger will form the world’s fifth largest food and beverage firm and the third largest in North America. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the creation of The Kraft Heinz Co., USA TODAY reports. The new firm will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and in the Chicago area. It will have revenues of approximately $28 billion and will hold a portfolio of iconic brands, including Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Ore-Ida and Philadelphia.
February Durable Goods Orders Slip
Orders for U.S. durable goods (meant to last at least three years) fell in February for the third time in four months, MarketWatch reports. Durable goods declined by a seasonally-adjusted 1.4 percent last month, the Commerce Department announced. This follows a 2 percent gain in January that was smaller than previously estimated. There was less demand for large commercial aircraft and autos.
Greece Risks Running Out of Cash Within the Month
Reuters reports that Greece risks running out of cash by April 20 unless it can secure fresh aid. Following talks with EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the past week, Athens said it will present a package of reforms to its euro zone partners in hopes of receiving more cash and avoiding a messy default. Athens is hoping the finance ministers will approve its list and allow the return of about 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds, a source told Reuters. The source said Athens also expected the return of about 1.2 billion euros in cash left in the Greek bank bailout fund that was taken back by the euro zone last month - something those officials said the euro zone bailout fund would discuss on Wednesday.
VA Going the Distance to Revise 40-Mile Rule
Responding to pressure from Congress and veterans groups, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday it is relaxing a rule that makes it hard for some veterans in rural areas to prove they live at least 40 miles from a VA health site, the Associated Press reports. Jon Stewart devoted a segment of Monday’s “The Daily Show” to the situation. Lawmakers and advocates have complained that the VA's current policy has prevented thousands of veterans from taking advantage of a new law intended to allow veterans in remote areas to gain access to federally paid medical care from local doctors. The VA said it will now measure the 40-mile trip by driving miles as calculated by Google maps or other sites, rather than “as the crow flies,” as currently interpreted. The rule change is expected to roughly double the number of veterans eligible for the VA's new "Choice Card" program and add billions of dollars in annual costs as tens of thousands of new veterans receive private medical care, which typically costs more than traditional care at VA hospitals and clinics.
Card Holders Left Chasing Lollapalooza Tickets
Many Lollapalooza fans were thwarted in their attempts to use their Chase credit cards to purchase three-day passes to Lollapalooza Tuesday. Their cards were rejected leaving the disappointed cardholders to take to social media to complain. A Chase representative blamed the snafu on a "systems issue” that saw cards declined for fraud protection. The three-day passes are sold out. Single-day tickets go on sale Wednesday.
Goodbye Waffle Taco, Hello Biscuit Taco
Taco Bell has launched the latest offensive in the escalating fast food breakfast wars: the Biscuit Taco. It is jettisoning its “waffle taco,” which was introduced last year. Taco Bell plans to market its new creation as a more exciting alternative to market leader McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. Unlike the waffle taco, the chain is proclaiming that the biscuit folded in the shape of a taco is “here to stay.” Starting on Thursday, customers can fill it with eggs, sausage, cheese, or deep-fried chicken. It has between 370 and 470 calories, depending on the fillings.