Merkel’s Health Chief Steps Aside in Race for German Succession

Walmart Suspends Donations to Lawmakers Who Objected to Election

Walmart Inc. is halting political donations to the lawmakers who voted against certifying the election results, joining Corporate America’s push to punish politicians who sought to undermine the U.S. election.

“We examine and adjust our political giving strategy at the end of every election cycle, and that review will continue over the coming months,” the company said in an emailed statement. “However, in light of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, Walmart’s political action committee is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes.”

The world’s largest retailer becomes one of the most notable corporations to rethink political donations following the deadly unrest on Capitol Hill last week. Companies from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Coca-Cola Co. to 3M Co. have already said they wouldsuspend some or all giving after Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump challenged the election results, which led a mob to storm the Capitol.

Vanguard Folds Active Fund Into $97 Billion Value Index Tracker

Vanguard Group is folding one of its active stock funds into its giantValue Index Fund, in a sign of the growing pressure cheaper passive strategies are putting on their counterparts.

Shareholders approved a plan to merge the $1.1 billionVanguard U.S. Value Fund into the $96.9 billion Vanguard Value Index Fund by Feb. 5, the firm said Friday in a statement.

The index-tracking fund industry is increasingly gobbling up market share from mutual funds whose portfolio managers make the investment decisions. The U.S. Value Fund, which haslagged behind its benchmark for years, charges 22 cents per $100 invested, while the Value Index Fund charges 5 cents. The U.S. Value Fund returned an annualized 9.9% over the past five years through Thursday, compared with 12.7% for the Russell 3000 Total Return Value Index.

“The merger is a result of Vanguard’s ongoing and comprehensive fund oversight program,” a Vanguard spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

AUTO1 Group SE Plans IPO – Quick Facts

AUTO1 Group SE, Europe’s leading digital automotive platform, announced intention to list shares on the regulated market (Prime Standard) of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The planned offering is expected to comprise newly issued shares from a capital increase and existing shares as well as shares in connection with possible over-allotments, covered by a greenshoe option provided by certain selling shareholders.

The company targets gross proceeds of approximately 1 billion euros from newly issued shares. AUTO1 plans to invest approximately 750 million euros of the net proceeds to further accelerate the growth of its business, especially of Autohero, and it is expected to use the remainder to repay an existing convertible loan.

Agents Simon Faber, Solco Schuit & Tanya Cohen Leave WME, Plot Career Moves

Three WME agents, Simon Faber, Solco Schuit and Tanya Cohen are leaving the agency.

Motion picture lit agents Schuit and Faber are believed to be partnering together, possibly to produce.

Fellow lit agent Cohen is said to be transitioning to management. There is no likely destination yet, with a number of companies, including Range and Sugar23, where fellow WME agent Meredith Wechter is headed, believed to be in play. Range seems most likely, where she and Rich Cook worked together on a number of clients.

Faber has been at WME (and its predecessor Endeavor) for 14.5 years. Schuit, who also transitioned to WME from Endeavor, was named partner last month.

Cohen, who joined WME in 2015, was named partner last year. Before that, she worked at Verve and Paradigm.

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Swiss Extend Job Furlough Program as Pandemic Endures

Switzerland is modifying its job furlough program, taking into account the persistence of the pandemic that has forced a renewed closure of shops and restaurants.

The government in Bern said on Wednesday it wanted to reduce the hurdles for companies claiming compensation for idle workers, in a bid to ensure they have enough liquidity and prevent a rise in unemployment.

The changes include scrapping the maximum time limit a company can participate in the program and the grace period before affected businesses can apply. Apprentices and workers on fixed-term contracts will also be included in the furlough program, according to a statement.

The Swiss expect to have spent between 10.5 billion ($11.8 billion) and 11 billion francs on the furlough program in 2020, with another 4.5 billion francs foreseen for this year.

Furlough programs, where the state reimburses companies for workers’ salaries during recessions, are common across Europe. They’ve been credited with preventing the pandemic-induced surge in unemployment seen in the U.S. earlier this year.

Merkel’s Health Chief Steps Aside in Race for German Succession

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who won favor among conservative voters by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, said he’s out of the race for her succession.

Spahn, 40, said his goal is to become a deputy chairman of the governing Christian Democratic Union, Welt am Sonntag reported, citing aninterview. That implies he isn’t competing for the party’s top leadership job, a potential springboard to running as the CDU’s candidate for chancellor in Germany’s federal election on Sept. 26.

Spahn, whose standing has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, sounded out party colleagues to gauge support for a bid to run for chancellor, people familiar with the discussions said this week. He backed off on Saturday, telling Welt am Sonntag he supports the candidacy of Armin Laschet, a CDU regional leader in Merkel’s pragmatist mold.

“I’m campaigning for Armin Laschet and what we offer as a team,” Spahn told the newspaper.

Merkel, 66, has said she’ll step down after the election after 16 years as chancellor. Ahead of the campaign in the summer and fall, CDU delegates are electing a new party head at a virtual convention beginning Friday.

— With assistance by Arne Delfs