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COUPON GIANT BUYS ANOTHER MAJOR BRAND

Cox Target Media announced Thursday that it has acquired yet another major coupon company, Savings.com. Savings.com will join Cox's Valpak, which mails out millions of the familiar blue envelopes full of localized coupons and deals every month. The two brands - which will continue to operate separately - will be able to share their deals across platforms. Valpak envelopes will still contain the hyperlocal offers they are known for, but now the coupon packs will also include deals from national retailers. "The content in the Valpak envelope will get a lot better with the addition of national retailers," said Cox Target Media president Michael Vivio. "The Target, the Walgreens, the Best Buys and that kind of stuff." Vivio said the company paid $100 million up front for Savings.com, as well as London-based Savoo.co.uk., and expects to pay more as the site continues to grow. Savings.com launched in 2007 and has more than 5 million visitors monthly. This purchase will provide advertisers with the national reach of Valpak and the lower up-front costs of the pay-for-performance advertising on Savings.com, Vivio said.

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USAmeriBank to add 25 positions

Clearwater-based USAmeriBank is seeking applicants for 25 open positions as it continues to expand. The 5-year-old bank has 10 branches with plans to open its 11th branch later this year in the West Shore area. A bank spokesman said most of the jobs range from $25,000 to $50,000 a year, but there are also some higher-level positions paying as much as $80,000. To apply online, go to www.USAmeriBank.com.

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Wells Fargo gives home buyers a lift

Nearly 600 prospective Tampa home buyers seeking down payment assistance and home renovation grants up to $15,000 apiece have registered to attend a Wells Fargo event that kicks off today. Wells Fargo has earmarked $7 million for Tampa residents under its Neighborhood LIFT program. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Saturday at the Tampa Convention Center. About 150 Wells Fargo employees will be on hand to help applicants. To qualify for down payment money, residents must live in Tampa and have an annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median income for the area. For Tampa, that means an income of less than $67,700 for a family of four. Participants in the program do not have to get their mortgage loan through Wells Fargo, bank spokeswoman Kathy Harrison said. By late Thursday, advance registration had been closed. Walk-ins are welcome, but they may need to wait for an available Wells Fargo representative. For details, go to www.neighborhoodlift.org.

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Broker accused of astrology scheme

Federal officials say a former Central Florida broker ran an astrology-based Ponzi scheme. The Securities and Exchange Commission reported Thursday that Gurudeo "Buddy" Persaud falsely guaranteed investors returns of 6 to 18 percent, but he did not reveal that his trading strategy was based on his belief that markets are affected by gravitational forces. Persaud raised more than $1 million between July 2007 and January 2010. A complaint filed in federal civil court says Persaud lost $400,000 of investor funds through his trading and diverted at least $415,000 for his personal expenses.

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