Business Headlines

iStock/Josie_Desmarais(NEW YORK) -- Thirty-eight states have joined Connecticut's investigation into Juul over the company's health claims and marketing tactics, which officials said are geared toward minors.

The probe is considering company's marketing and sales practices, claims regarding nicotine content and statements the company made regarding the risks, safety and efficacy as a smoking-cessation device, according to a statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong launched the investigation into Juul in July and provided an update Tuesday at the at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.

Several members of the 39-state coalition have sent civil investigative demands or subpoenas to Juul, and more are expected to be sent as the investigation uncovers more information, Tong told reporters.

"I think the best thing Juul can do is respond -- fully, forthrightly, transparently -- and cooperate with these states," Tong said.

In November, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against the e-cigarette company over its marketing practices, which she also alleged were geared toward youth. New York was the third state, joining California and North Carolina, to sue Juul for its marketing practices.

There have been 42 deaths and 2,172 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping as of Nov. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 46 Connecticut residents were hospitalized with lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping between August and December of 2019, the Connecticut Department of Public Health reported.

In a statement to ABC News, Juul spokesman Austin Finan said the company's customer base is 1 billion "adult smokers," adding that the company does "not intend to attract underage users."

Juul has taking action by preparing "comprehensive and scientifically rigorous Premarket Tobacco Product Applications," stopping the sale of flavored pods other than tobacco and menthol in November, halting its television, print and digital advertising and implementing a $1 billion restructuring plan, Finan said.

"We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes," Finan said.

Tong said the investigation would determine whether Juul has "done enough" to mitigate the damage, which he said has already "been done."

"They dominate 80 to 90% of this marketplace, and we have a youth vaping epidemic that is sweeping the country," he said. "We need to understand the extent to which they are responsible.

"We're gonna hold them accountable."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/tzahiV(NEW YORK) -- GIF, GIPHY, Jif.

Chances are you read those three terms differently, but you know exactly how you think it should sound.

Jif and GIPHY have now teamed up to try and put a lid on the long-running pronunciation debate when it comes to the semantics between a hard g and a soft g.

"Jif, said with a 'soft G,' is America’s number one peanut butter. GIFs, said with a 'hard G,' are the frequently shared looping videos that add humor, culture, and entertainment into people’s daily conversations (of which GIPHY serves 10 billion each day)," the brands said in a joint press release.

To further prove their point on the major phonetic difference, Jif created a limited run of specially labeled jars.

"If you've ever called a GIF and 'Jif' we forgive you," the lid of the limited-time peanut butter jars read.

Jif began sharing the new campaign on Twitter Tuesday to explain the semantics between the two consonant pronunciations.

"At GIPHY, we know there’s only one Jif and it’s peanut butter. If you’re looking for all the GIFs, there’s only one GIPHY," Alex Chung, founder and CEO of GIPHY, said in a statement. "If you’re a soft G, please visit If you’re a hard G, thank you, we know you’re right. Whether you like your Gs hard or soft, let’s all share some fun and let peanut butter unite us in saying GIF and eating Jif."

The smooth new collaboration comes just ahead of National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day on March 1.

As of the time of publication, the limited-edition Jif jars are available on Amazon for under $10 while they last.

"Spread the word like Jif on bread -- Jif is peanut butter, GIFs are animations," added Rebecca Scheidler, VP of marketing for Jif.

While both brands said they stand in agreement, they shared the sentiment that "the fun is in the debate, which has been going on since the GIF came on the scene in 1987."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Kwangmoozaa(SEATTLE) -- Amazon's first Go Grocery store will open its doors in Seattle on Tuesday, welcoming shoppers to walk in, grab what they need and walk out without ever having to interact with a cashier.

The e-commerce giant that has already shaken up the way people shop for pretty much everything is now expanding into the grocery business and is aiming to change the way people go to the supermarket by eliminating lines and checkout registers.  

Customers simply scan an app as they enter, fill up their bag with groceries and leave, using what Amazon dubs "Just Walk Out Technology."

They will be sent a receipt and charged to their Amazon account as soon as they exit the store.

The shopping experience employs "the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning," according to Amazon Go's website.

The high-tech store keeps track of when products are taken or returned to the shelves and tracks them in a virtual cart, the company added.

In order to shop at the store, you must have an Amazon account, the Amazon Go app and a "recent-generation" iPhone or Android phone.

While Amazon has a handful of smaller Go convenience stores that already use some of the technology, the Seattle location opening Tuesday is its first full-sized supermarket.

The 14,400 square-foot grocery store is also featuring some beloved local vendors such as Seattle Bagel Bakery, La Parisienne and Lopez Island Creamery. Amazon says its staff taste-tested a range of products as well in order to stock the store with tasty and high-quality goods.

While this is Amazon's first Go Grocery store, it also owns approximately 500 Whole Foods across the country after acquiring the chain in 2017. Dilip Kumar, the vice president of Amazon Go, told the Wall Street Journal it currently has no plans to put cashierless tech into Whole Foods stores yet.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Anatoliy Sizov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Transportation Security Administration has banned its employees from using TikTok to create content for the agency after facing pressure from lawmakers over the social media platform's ties to China.

The announcement comes after Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, sent a letter blasting the federal agency for still using the app -- which is especially popular among young people -- even after the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security banned it.

"The TSA is to be recognized for its work to engage a variety of stakeholders with airline rules and safety, but it also must acknowledge the ironic risk it's placing its own agency -- and potentially the public -- in with its continued use of the China-owned TikTok app," Schumer said in a statement Sunday.

"Given the widely reported threats, the already-in-place agency bans, and the existing national security concerns posed by TikTok, the feds cannot continue to allow the TSA's use of the platform to fly," he added.

Schumer accused the TSA of posting TikTok videos on agency accounts even as TikTok was being federally probed, pointing to a viral "nopes" and "yeps" of carry-on luggage and a "romantic tips" for travelers videos.

"These videos sure do make you chuckle; they're creative," Schumer said. "But China might be laughing at these TSA postings for very different reasons, and that should concern us and it's why I am urging the TSA to find a different platform, and cease its use of TikTok now."

A spokesperson for the TSA told ABC News Monday that the agency has an "award-winning presence on several social media platforms" but that it has never published any content to TikTok or directed viewers to it.

"A small number of TSA employees have previously used Tik Tok on their personal devices to create videos for use in TSA's social media outreach, but that practice has been discontinued," the spokesperson added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Amazon's new series Hunters has come under fire from the Auschwitz Memorial for a scene that depicts a fictionalized portrayal of the Holocaust.

The remembrance group blasts the scene as "dangerous," adding that it "welcomes future deniers."

The drama series, starring Al Pacino, premiered on Amazon's Prime streaming service last Friday. It's advertised as being "inspired by true events" on its website, and follows the story of a team of Nazi hunters who target escaped Nazis living in the U.S. in the 1970s.

The Auschwitz Memorial, which preserves the site of the former Nazi death camp in Poland, blasted what it called the "dangerous foolishness" of a scene from the series on Twitter.

"Auschwitz was full of horrible pain & suffering documented in the accounts of survivors," the Auschwitz Memorial's official account tweeted Sunday, sharing a photo of a scene from the series where humans are used as chess pieces.

"Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers," the tweet added. "We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy."

In a series of follow-up tweets, the Auschwitz Memorial slammed what it called "fake story that never happened in Auschwitz."

"Auschwitz was a real place where people suffered," the tweet stated. "It would be much better if the authors of the movie tried to raise awareness of a true event of the Holocausts by showing something closer to the truth rather than choosing to create a fake story that never happened in Auschwitz."

More than 1.1 million people died in the Nazi-run concentration camp between 1940 and 1945, according to the Auschwitz Memorial.

David Weil, the creator and executive producer of "Hunters," responded to the angry criticisms in a lengthy statement, writing about his own experience visiting Auschwitz, where he says his grandmother was imprisoned.

"While 'Hunters' is a dramatic narrative series, with largely fictional characters, it is inspired by true events. But it is not documentary," Weil said. "And it was never purported to be."

He adds that he grappled with "the ultimate question and challenge of telling a story about the Holocaust: how do I do so without borrowing from a real person’s specific life or experience?"

Weil added that the "chess match" scene is a "fictionalized event."

"Why did I feel this scene was important to script and place in series? To most powerfully counteract the revisionist narrative that whitewashes Nazi perpetration, by showcasing the most extreme -- and representationally truthful -- sadism and violence that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews and other victims," he said.

Weil continued, "And why did I feel the need to create a fictional event when there were so many real horrors that existed? After all, it is true that Nazis perpetrated widespread and extreme acts of sadism and torture – and even incidents of cruel 'games' -- against their victims. I simply did not want to depict those specific, real acts of trauma."

The filmmaker said he hopes to continue a dialogue with the Auschwitz Memorial and believes they are "on the same side and working toward the same goals."

Shortly after blasting Amazon for "Hunters," the Auschwitz Memorial also slammed the e-commerce giant for selling and distributing the work of Julius Streicher, a Nazi who was convicted of crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg trials.

"When you decide to make a profit on selling vicious anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda published without any critical comment or context, you need to remember that those words led not only to the #Holocaust but also many other hate crimes motivated by #antisemitism," the tweet read, sharing photos of Streicher's work.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company believes access to even "objectionable" books is important, but that it also takes the concerns seriously.

"As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to the written word is important, including books that some may find objectionable," the spokesperson said. "We take concerns seriously and are listening to feedback. Amazon has policies governing which books can be listed for sale; we invest significant time and resources to ensure our guidelines are followed, and remove products that do not."

In December 2019, Amazon sparked outrage for distributing a series of holiday "ornaments" featuring images of Auschwitz which it ultimately pulled from its platform.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 1,000 points at close on Monday, marking its worst single-day drop in more than two years, as the number of coronavirus infections around the world have surged.

The S&P 500 and NASDAQ also tumbled Monday, by more than 3.3% and 3.7%, respectively.

United Health, American Express, Cisco, Visa, Walgreens and Apple were among the worst performers Monday, all falling more than 4%.

As markets opened Monday, the Dow was down more than 900 points after reports that the worldwide death toll from the novel coronavirus had risen to 2,612. A vast majority of those deaths -- more than 2,500 -- were in China.

Outside of China, there have also been reports of the virus spreading rapidly in Japan, South Korea and Italy.

"The coronavirus might be slowing in mainland China, but the huge jump over the weekend to various other countries has many reassessing 2020 growth estimates," Ryan Detrick, the senior market strategist for LPL Financial, said in a commentary about Monday's market sell-off.

"The IMF already lowered China’s growth this year, but should the virus continue to spread to other parts of the world, we could see quickly decreasing earnings and growth outlooks," Detrick added.

Experts say the volatile market reactions show how much uncertainty still surrounds the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19.

"Markets were hit with renewed fears over coronavirus and the potential economic impact resulting from the shift of the viral outbreak being more of pandemic problem," Charlie Ripley, the senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, said in a statement.

"The interruption to business and supply chains is becoming more prevalent as companies like Apple have already warned investors of the setback the virus has caused," Ripley added. "Additionally, we expect the transportation industry to be affected as travelers cancel flights, hotels and other travel arrangements. During past events of this nature we tend to see a relatively quick recovery, but markets continue to grapple with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and the timing around the peak of its widespread harm to both human life and the economy."

Meanwhile, demand for haven assets such as U.S. treasuries and gold spiked.

Apple told investors last week that its worldwide iPhone supply will be "temporarily constrained" due to outbreak and that it does not expect to meet the revenue guidance it provided for the second quarter.

A handful of other U.S. and international companies have already begun to feel the financial impacts of the outbreak that has crippled the world's second-largest economy.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


JHVEPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) — Intuit, known for making the tax software TurboTax, may soon be the new owner of Credit Karma.

Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports Intuit is nearing a deal to purchase the personal finance company for approximately $7 billion in cash and stock.

So long as discussions don’t fall apart, the sources tell the newspaper the deal could be officially announced as soon as Monday.

Credit Karma was founded 13 years ago. In 2018, the privately held company was valued at about $4 billion.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


wdstock/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Justice and Wells Fargo have agreed to a $3 billion settlement that includes the bank admitting to wrongdoing.

A criminal investigation into the company's actions found that from 2002 to 2016 Wells Fargo pressured employees to meet unrealistic sales goals, which led to millions of accounts being created without consent from customers, a DOJ official told reporters on Friday.

Wells Fargo, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, will admit that, among other illegal practices, employees created false records and forged customers' signatures to open unauthorized checking and savings accounts, in some cases altering customers' personal information so they wouldn't be notified of changes to their accounts.

This settlement only pertains to the bank -- no protections are extended to current or former employees or executives who may have been implicated in the scandal.

The $3 billion includes a $500 million civil penalty that will be distributed to investors by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wells Fargo in January reported a fourth-quarter net profit of $2.9 billion, down from $6.1 billion a year earlier.

For all of 2019, the bank reported a net profit of $19.5 billion.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jaguar Land Rover(NEW YORK) -- Julian Thomson does not want to talk about SUVs.

A perfect world for the 58-year-old Brit, who replaced Ian Callum last June as Jaguar's director of design, would include more sports cars and fewer trucks.

"I don't know, it's a mystery to me," he said when asked why crossovers and SUVs have become so popular worldwide.

Thomson, who has been drawing cars since the age of 4, acknowledged that car design "is changing really, really fast," but designers like himself and his team of 300 in Gaydon, U.K., "have a better fighting chance" of making a sports car more beautiful than an SUV.

Jaguar, which produced its first car in 1935, has shifted focus away from building the sports cars that once earned a legion of followers. Owned by India's Tata Motors, the luxury brand has pegged its future on sport-utility vehicles and electrification.

Thomson, however, argued that sports cars can still be relevant in the age of SUVs and lift Jaguar Land Rover from its current financial struggles.

The company recently showed off the latest iteration of its F-TYPE, a two-seater sports car that underwent a face-lift for 2021. The newer model, available in three engine types (a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and a supercharged V8), now boasts more power, upgraded in-car technology and an updated grille and front bumper, among other cosmetic tweaks.

Eighty-two percent of current F-TYPE owners are men and the average age of an owner is 53, according to Jaguar.

ABC News recently sat down with Thomson to discuss why a $62,000 sports car could help to reverse Jaguar's misfortunes:

How would you describe the new F-TYPE in three words?

Pure, beautiful and balanced.

What would you like to see in the next F-TYPE?

I would say more Jaguar. We're a brand that really connects with the heart and really has a human side to it. I would like to make sure we do more of that really. We have to be different ... even more to stand out. We're never really going to do things that are outrageous or weird. We do things that are balanced and very beautiful. Very, very natural.

What's the biggest challenge these days in designing a sports car?

Just getting to design sports cars. Unfortunately, there aren't many of them in the world. The world is against them. Despite of [environmental and safety concerns] they do represent the ultimate dream of a car. They do represent you riding off into the sunset, they do represent that freedom. If the car is a reflection of the person, it reflects the most beautiful version of you. For a company like Jaguar, which is all about beautiful cars, the sports car always represents that pinnacle. That's what distinguishes us as a brand -- that's the ultimate realization of beauty, power and innovation for us.

How do you get people to buy more sports cars?

I think you have to connect with young people. A lot of customers who buy them are more experienced drivers. They appreciate the history of them. You have to recreate that in the modern context for younger people. They've got to start believing in that dream of driving again.

How do you get women excited about sports cars?

You're not interested in [setting lap times]. You just want the most beautiful, nicest thing to drive. You have to talk more about the experience of using the car and how you interact with it. We need to make sure it's not a threatening thing, not a totally macho thing. A lot of designers on our team are female. They love sports cars. They don't want to be associated with something that is so masculine. We have to think differently about how these cars appear.

You said car designers ought to put their money where their mouth is and buy the cars they design. Have you bought all of the cars you've designed?

No, I haven't. Otherwise I'd have 40 or 50 cars. But I have bought a couple of them. It's weird how you connect with a car. I've bought cars I've designed and sometimes you feel like you're driving around in a sweater you've knitted yourself. You feel very self-conscious. Ideally, you design a car that fits with your life stage moment. You sympathize with that car. I designed the Lotus Elise when I was single. I was very limber, I could climb into anything ... that car was perfect for my time. When I did the Land Rover LRX I had a couple of kids, I was still trying to be cool, and now I am very fond of the XJ [sedan] but maybe because it's my stage in life [he laughs].

How do you get people excited again about sedans?

You've got to design beautiful sedans. Unfortunately, the sedan market is a difficult place. People buy a sedan because they want a rational product a lot of the time. They're deliberately designed to be rational. We have to design sedans that you fall in love with.

What type of cars should be the focus for Jaguar?

Just more sports cars maybe. The world needs more sports cars.

What will be your mark on the company? How will you differentiate yourself from Ian Callum?

There's as much of Ian as me in all the cars we've done so far. He's handed over the baton to me, the responsibility, so that consistency is very, very important. Our focus the last few years is to add a lot of new models to the range. We've expanded and grown like no other car manufacturer has ... new segments like electric cars and SUVs. A lot of it has been based around growth. I'd like to get us back to probably a more glamorous, romantic vision of Jaguar.

So less SUVs?

I still think SUVs can be exciting. But I want to get the balance back the other way. A bit more into sedans, a bit more into sports cars.

*The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


npstockphoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- What is considered a good deal when it comes to airfare during spring break?

Depending on whether you're shopping for a domestic or international flight, the answer is $246 or $601.

How to spot a deal

According to Hopper, the flight prediction app, $246 and $601 are the average prices per ticket for spring break flights. And here's the really good news: spring break airfare is the lowest it's been in four years. So if you've been putting off that solo, family or couples vacation, now is the best time to pull the trigger.

What do these prices mean for you? Use them as a frame of reference. A highly traveled route like New York to Miami will yield lower prices because of stiff competition. Traveling to or from a remote destination or airport will probably cost more.

Where to go

Skyscanner, the online travel company, identified destinations that will give fliers the most bang for their buck during spring break for ABC News' Good Morning America.

- Under-$150 round trip: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

- Under-$200 round trip: Aruba, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

- Under-$300: France, Spain, Ireland and Italy.

When to go

The cheapest days to fly this winter are upon us. According to FareCompare, traveling before March 1 will yield some of the year's cheapest prices on domestic flights. For Europe, there's more time -- travel before March 25 for the best deals.

If you're not tied to a school vacation calendar, Hooper's data show it's best to avoid mid-March to mid-April for spring travel.

And days of the week are not created equal. Hopper found traveling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this spring can save as much as 18% per ticket.

When to book

Hopper said the sweet spot for booking a flight is three weeks out for domestic flights and four weeks out for international flights. After that, prices will go up an average of $11 and $16 per day, respectively.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Crate and Barrel(NEW YORK) -- Leanne Ford has teamed up with Crate and Barrel to bring her design aesthetic into everyone's home.

From a canopy bed frame to clay bowls, the entire collection is both sophisticated and gives off minimalist Kim Kardashian vibes.

You might recognize Ford from her work with HGTV and from magazines.

But you might be more familiar with her hit HGTV show featuring her brother, Restored by the Fords, where the pair renovates older homes into dream houses. In fact, the two also worked on A Very Brady Renovation, restoring the iconic Brady Bunch house.

Now, she's making a name for herself with her collection, which she's long dreamed of having.

"Working together to create this collection, a fresh, modern take on classic materials and shapes, has been a shared labor of love. I love knowing these pieces will be around for years to come," Ford said in a statement.

The collaboration with Crate and Barrel includes more than 50 pieces, ranging from furniture and decor to bedding.

"Minimalism has always been around and I love that it’s being talked about more now. The key to making minimalism livable is to inject soul and warmth with textures, natural elements and imperfect, organic forms," Ford told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Ford's collection uses a simple black, white and tan color palette.

"We have always been such fans of Leanne's design work, as she's helping redefine American interior style with her artful and design-forward vibe. Our shared passion for design, and shared admiration for each other's work, allowed us to create a timeless, yet versatile collection," Sebastian Brauer, vice president of product design and development at Crate and Barrel, said in a statement.

The Crate and Barrel x Leanne Ford Spring 2020 Collection is available now.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


JHVEPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- We've all been there: you're getting ready for an event and somehow, everything in your closet suddenly seems unappealing.

Thankfully, Banana Republic announced it is launching its first on-demand delivery service, partnering with Postmates, the service well-known for delivering your favorite takeout food.

With this new delivery service, Postmates will bring clothes from the retailer directly to your door.

“We are excited to introduce this partnership with Postmates as we continue to offer our customers convenient ways to shop,” Banana Republic Chief Marketing Officer Mary Alderete said in a statement. “Our customers are curious, connected and out in the world and we’re offering them a modern retail experience. Same-day delivery is a natural next step for us as we’re seeing continued success with our Buy Online Pick Up In-Store program.”

👋 LA NY! We partnered with @Postmates to get you free same-day delivery on your Buy Online, Pick Up In Store product order.

Learn more:

— Banana Republic (@BananaRepublic) February 13, 2020

Starting this week, the service will be exclusively offered at 15 locations around New York City and Southern California.

Postmates is no stranger to dipping its toes in the fashion world.

Back in December, it partnered with Old Navy to deliver clothes during the holidays.

Both brands are a part of the Gap, Inc. family.

"Consumers are accustomed to getting things on-demand and we've seen an uptick in non-food related orders," a Postmates spokesperson told "GMA."

Other retailers like 7-Eleven, Walmart and Shopify, are also using the platform for convenient deliveries.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nikada/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley is acquiring online financial services company E*Trade for a whopping $13 billion, the companies announced Thursday.

E*Trade "represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy," Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said in a statement.

The all-stock takeover is the largest takeover by a U.S. bank since the financial crisis of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.

E*Trade is an app and online brokerage platform that lets users trade stocks and more. It also provides a handful of other online banking services including employee stock ownership plans. It currently boasts more than 5.2 million client accounts and $360 billion of retail client assets.

"Since we created the digital brokerage category nearly 40 years ago, E*TRADE has consistently disrupted the status quo and delivered cutting-edge tools and services to investors, traders, and stock plan administrators," Mike Pizzi, the company's CEO, said Thursday. "By joining Morgan Stanley, we will be able to take our combined offering to the next level and deliver an even more comprehensive suite of wealth management capabilities."

Experts say the acquisition shows the big bank's push towards managing the money of not just the ultra-wealthy, but also the masses.

"Wall Street banks continue to covet Main Street customers," Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at, said in a statement. "Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of E*Trade gives them access to brokerage customers, employees with company stock, and the lifeblood of financial services -- low cost retail bank deposits."

Other big banks are similarly turning their sights to the digital banking world, he said.

"As Goldman Sachs has grown their online bank Marcus, and as Schwab has acquired TD Ameritrade, the trail was blazed for Morgan Stanley’s pathway into financial services for mass affluent and the up-and-comers that will be tomorrow’s affluent households," McBride added.

McBride noted that "the competition for consumers’ cash and investments is as fierce as ever."

"And this reaches a broad spectrum of households, it isn’t just the ultra wealthy that are in demand," he said.

Morgan Stanley's acquisition of E*Trade is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and E*Trade shareholder approvals.

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Arby's (NEW YORK) -- As Catholics prepare for Lent, fast-food chains are looking to hook some new customers with specialty seafood menu items to capitalize on the meat-free Friday fast.

The golden arches at McDonald's have long been home to a popular Lent option with its Filet-O-Fish sandwich and now two competitors are wading into the waters, which has created a bit of a surf war online.

Arby's may be known for having the meats, but for a limited-time, it will dive into seafood fare.

The fast food restaurant made a splash on social media with a tweet thread about its new menu items, which churned up some choppy responses online.

Arby's will offer three fish sandwich options for customers: a King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe, Crispy Fish and Fish N' Cheddar.

Earlier this week, a Southern favorite also announced the return of its own fresh catch option.

"After a long off-season, the Bojangles’ BojAngler fish sandwich is back on the Southern restaurant chain’s menu," the restaurant announced in a press release.

Chef Marshall Scarborough, Bojangles’ vice president of menu and culinary innovation, said the sandwich is made with wild-caught Alaskan Pollock, dusted in Bojangles' fry seasoning, topped with a slice of American cheese and tartar sauce, between a toasted and buttered bun.

"There are plenty of fish sandwiches in the sea, but this sandwich boasts what others cannot: that one-of-a-kind Bojangles’ flavor that leaves you craving more," Scarborough said of the limited-time menu item which will also be available a la carte and as a dinner platter.

Lent begins on Feb. 26 and goes through April 9, which is known as Holy Thursday in the Catholic church.

In previous years, other restaurants have gone above and beyond to catch the attention of Catholics abstaining from meat.

Red Robin even invited Pope Francis to lunch in 2015 at its Colorado-based burger location when it first introduced its Wild Pacific crab cake burger.

"If His Holiness accepts and visits any U.S. location between February 18 and April 2, Red Robin will offer The Wild Pacific Crab Cake Burger to guests for free, while supplies last, on the remaining Fridays during Lent," the company said at the time.

Some practitioners of the Christian season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days ahead of Easter, exercise personal sacrifices such as abstaining from meat.

McDonald's has offered its Filet-O-Fish sandwich for just $1 during Lent and reportedly sees an increase in sales in the fish sandwich around that time of the year. The sandwich was created by the franchisee of the first McDonald's in Cincinnati in 1962 in part to cater to the predominantly Roman Catholic customers.

Other fast-food restaurants have also seen a rise in seafood sales during Lent.

"During Lent, we see 25 to 40% increases in our weekly unit volumes," Long John Silver's chief marketing officer Charles St. Clair told Quick Service Restaurant magazine. "The awareness that gets generated this time of year helps throughout the year."

Heather Metzler, former director of brand marketing for Arby’s, told the magazine that since 2008, Arby’s has brought its wild Alaska Pollock fish sandwich back every year during Lent. Last month, Arby's introduced its "King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe sandwich, available through March.

Arby’s sold 11.8 million Reel Big Fillet sandwiches last year, compared with 8.7 million in 2012.

“Our customers have come to expect it, and we are gaining more interest every year,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


anouchka/iStock(NEW YORK) -- After nearly six decades, founder and CEO Leslie Wexner will step down from his executive role at L Brands, the company announced Thursday.

L Brands -- the conglomerate behind mall staples Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and Pink -- will also separate into two companies. Bath & Body Works will become a standalone public company, and Victoria's Secret, Victoria's Secret Beauty and Pink are going private as a single brand, L Brands said.

"We believe this structure will allow Bath & Body Works -- which represents the vast majority of 2019 consolidated operating income -- to continue to achieve strong growth and receive its appropriate market valuation," Wexner said in a statement Thursday. "The transaction will also allow the company to reduce debt."

He added that they believe Victoria's Secret going private "provides the best path to restoring these businesses to their historic levels of growth and profitability."

Victoria's Secret will become a privately-held company majority-owned by private equity firm Sycamore Partners. As part of the deal, Sycamore will purchase a 55% interest in Victoria's Secret for approximately $525 million, and L Brands will retain a 45% stake in the lingerie company.

Wexner, 82, has led L Brands since 1963. He will continue at the company in the non-executive role of chairman emeritus of the board.

In recent years, Wexner has come under fire for his ties to the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide while awaiting trial in a New York jail in August.

Wexner acknowledged his ties to Epstein during a call with investors in September, saying he was "embarrassed" by them. 

Management at Victoria's Secret has also courted controversy in recent years. L Brands' chief marketing officer Ed Razek stepped down in August 2019 after coming under fire for comments that he didn't want to cast transgender models in the fashion show because they might ruin its "fantasy" appeal.

The company also canceled broadcasting its once-iconic fashion shows in 2018.

Andrew Meslow, currently the COO of Bath and Body Works, has been promoted to the CEO of Bath and Body Works and will become the new CEO Of L Brands after the transaction is closed, the company said. Nick Coe, the current CEO of Bath and Body Works, has been named Vice Chairman of Bath and Body Works Brand Strategy and New Ventures.

"We are pleased to name Andrew as CEO of Bath & Body Works and have Nick step into this new, more focused role as the team propels the brand and business forward," Wexner said.

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