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Trying To Calm Investors Wells Fargo Ceo Emphasizes Stability Jokes About Olympics

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– Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Tim Sloan tried to deliver a message of consistency and stability at an investor event on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the third-largest U.S. bank disclosed another regulatory sanction related to a long-running sales scandal.

Asked whether an asset cap imposed by the U.S. Federal Reserve would have any impact on Wells Fargo’s expenses, growth, core businesses, customer retention, employee turnover or capital return plans, Sloan said repeatedly that nothing much had changed.

“We’re absolutely open for business,” Sloan said at a Credit Suisse industry conference. He has returned to that catch-phrase repeatedly to dampen concerns about fallout from the scandal.

Wells Fargo’s problems took root more than a decade ago, when the bank started pushing employees to sell as many products as possible to customers.

That culture became a serious problem for the bank in September 2016, when it reached a settlement with regulators over employees opening fake accounts in customers’ names without their permission to hit aggressive sales targets.

Since then, Wells Fargo has discovered other issues with auto loans, mortgages, frozen funds and improperly closed accounts, faced a number of other regulatory probes and litigation.

On Feb. 2, the Fed announced a consent order requiring Wells Fargo to prove that it is making appropriate changes to corporate governance and risk management. Until the requirements are met, Wells cannot grow its balance sheet beyond the $1.95 trillion in assets it had at year end.

Management immediately detailed plans to comply with the order, and said it would not hit profits significantly. Still, the severity of the Fed’s action so many months after the scandal erupted, underlined questions about how long it will take for the bank to get past its sales practices woes.

At the event on Tuesday, Credit Suisse analyst Susan Katzke pressed Sloan on whether the Fed’s action, and broader reputational issues, are affecting business on the ground, or management’s outlook for growth and shareholder returns.

Sloan reiterated statements he has made about business being stable, employees being happy to work at the bank, and Wells Fargo management being focused on generating better results. Asked to share metrics to back up some of his comments, Sloan jokingly changed topics and began talking about the Olympics.

“There’s a lot of different metrics that you look at, but they’re all pointing to a slow but steady recovery,” he eventually said, without offering any specific numbers. “It’s never as fast as I would like, but it’s absolutely occurring.” Wells Fargo shares were up 0.8 percent at $56.96 in midday trading. Through Monday’s close, the stock has lost nearly 14 percent since the Fed placed restrictions on it on Feb 2.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York;

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Japans Sharp Drops Suit Against Hisense Over Tv Sale In North America Nikkei

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– Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp (6753.T) would drop legal action blocking China’s Hisense Group from selling television in North America, Nikkei reported on Friday.

As of Thursday, Sharp had withdrawn a Federal lawsuit and an action filed with a U.S. trade body, the Nikkei Asian Review said.

Sharp, which had reduced its overseas TV business, had said it would re-enter the U.S. market with a high-end television brand.

In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission had agreed to probe certain Wi-Fi enabled devices and their parts after Sharp accused China’s Hisense Group Co Ltd of infringing its patents.

Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;

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Blackrock Puts Gunmakers On Notice After Florida School Shooting

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BOSTON/NEW YORK – The world’s largest asset manager put U.S. gunmakers on notice on Thursday that it is no longer business as usual in the wake of a shooting that killed 17 at a Florida high school.

BlackRock Inc said it will speak to weapons manufacturers and distributors “to understand their response” to the second-largest school shooting in history, putting pressure on companies such as Sturm Ruger & Company Inc and American Outdoor Brands Corp.

BlackRock is the largest shareholder in both gunmakers and has more than $6 trillion in assets under management. It stopped short of saying it would divest its funds of gun companies, however.

Underlining how the Valentine’s Day massacre at the Florida high school has rattled the finance industry’s relationship with gunmakers, First National Bank of Omaha said separately on Thursday it would not renew a contract with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to issue a NRA-branded Visa card. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gun control activists have campaigned in recent days for everything from banning semi-automatic guns like the one used in the Florida shooting to asking public pension funds to sell gun stocks.

New Jersey legislators on Thursday said they plan to introduce bills to bar state pension funds from investing in gun manufacturers.

BlackRock said it cannot sell shares of a company in an index. Instead, “We focus on engaging with the company and understanding how they are responding to society’s expectations of them,” BlackRock spokesman Ed Sweeney said in an email.

Sweeney declined to give more specifics, such as what if any changes BlackRock might seek at weapons makers or at retailers that sell their products.

But with so much money under management, BlackRock often has among the largest stakes in U.S. public companies, giving it much potential influence over their policies.

It owns about 17 percent of the total shares of Sturm Ruger and has about 11 percent of American Outdoor Brands, for instance, according to U.S. regulatory filings. The shares are largely held in funds that track indexes, such as the $6 billion iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF.

Representatives for American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink in January wrote a letter to corporate executives saying that companies need to show how they make “a positive contribution to society” in addition to delivering financial performance.

And he said that BlackRock would increase its own engagement with companies to improve its oversight over those companies, doubling to 64 the number of people it has dedicated to “investment stewardship,” its team that focuses on other company’s governance.

Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn;

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Hp Inc Quarterly Results Beat Estimates On Higher Pc Sales

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HP Inc (HPQ.N), which houses the hardware business of former Hewlett-Packard Co, reported a better-than-expected revenue and profit in the first quarter as the company sold more personal computers and printers.

Shares of the company rose 8 percent to $23.11 after the bell on Thursday.

HP Inc’s personal systems business, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the company’s total revenue, rose nearly 15 percent to $9.44 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $8.50 billion.

Despite a shrinking PC market in the United States, the company continued to pick up market share, after toppling Lenovo Group Ltd (0992.HK) last year from the top position globally, according to research firm Gartner Inc (IT.N).

Net earnings rose to $1.94 billion, or $1.16 per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31, from $611 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier, benefiting from a one-time tax gain of $1.03 billion.

Revenue rose 14.5 percent to $14.52 billion.

Excluding items, the Palo Alto, California-based company earned 48 cents per share.

Analysts on average were expecting 42 cents per share and revenue of $13.49 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru;

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