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TALKING POINTS

Manion to head lobbying for Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon has hired Michelle Manion to be its new vice president of policy and advocacy.
Mass Audubon has hired Michelle Manion to be its new vice president of policy and advocacy.Mass Audubon

ENVIRONMENT

Manion to head lobbying for Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon has hired Michelle Manion to be its new vice president of policy and advocacy. Manion’s position, essentially the top lobbyist for the environmental group, was elevated to the vice president level, in part to underscore the organization’s commitment to aggressive action on climate policies. Manion will also play a key role in mobilizing Mass Audubon’s 135,000 members to advocate on behalf of these policies and other environmental policies. Manion brings to the role two decades of environmental policy and management experience, most recently with the Washington-based World Resources Institute. Manion left WRI for the Mass Audubon job, although she has lived in Arlington for the past 20 years and worked remotely for WRI from Massachusetts. Manion, who started the job on Monday, takes over a role that was long held by Jack Clarke, who retired last year after 25 years as director of advocacy. — JON CHESTO

ACQUISITIONS

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Beam Therapeutics buys a biotech focused on drug delivery

Cambridge-based gene editing company Beam Therapeutics announced on Tuesday that it has acquired a Georgia-based biotech startup to expand the potential reach of its medicines. Beam is shelling out $120 million in stock upfront, plus potential milestone payments, to acquire Guide Therapeutics. Guide is developing new ways to deliver gene therapies, which could help Beam overcome the challenges associated with administering gene-editing tools. Guide says its screening platform can perform drug-delivery experiments in vivo at a rate up to 15,000 times higher than a traditional experiment. “Since our founding, Beam’s strategy has been to establish the leading, fully integrated platform for precision genetic medicine,” said John Evans, chief executive officer of Beam, in a press release. “We believe that the innovative scientists and technology at GuideTx will enable us to broaden the reach of gene editing even further.” Guide was founded out of the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2018, and its investors include Biomatics Capital, GreatPoint Ventures, and GV. Beam, which was founded in 2017, raised $180 million in an initial public offering last February. The biotech is using an emerging approach to CRISPR called base editing, which allows scientists to change the individual letters of DNA. Beam’s stock was down 12.6 percent when the markets closed on Tuesday. — ANISSA GARDIZY

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ORGANIZATIONS

Veteran of state and city government joins Mass. Business Roundtable

The Massachusetts Business Roundtable has hired Lauren Jones, a veteran of state and city government, to be its new executive vice president. Jones most recently served as the Massachusetts state director for Apprenti, a national organization that works to diversify the tech-sector’s workforce. She will work with executive director JD Chesloff, and be responsible for developing public policy strategies and organizational management for the Roundtable, a group of executives from many of the state’s largest employers. Jones held several policy and communications positions in the Patrick administration, before going to work for Mayor Martin J. Walsh in his first term, most notably launching the business strategy unit in Walsh’s economic development office. Jones, who started at the Roundtable on Monday, takes over for Christopher Kealey, who joined Associated Industries of Massachusetts as its chief operating officer on Feb. 1. — JON CHESTO

REAL ESTATE

Home prices soared in December

US home prices surged at the fastest pace in nearly seven years in December, fueled by low mortgage rates and Americans moving from crowded urban areas to houses in the suburbs. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, climbed 10.1 percent in December from a year earlier. The year-end jump was the biggest since April 2014 and follows a strong 9.2 percent year-over-year gain in November. Home prices climbed 14.4 percent in Phoenix, 13.6 percent in Seattle. But prices rose all over. Chicago, which recorded the slowest price gain, saw a 7.7 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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RETAIL

Macy’s sales plunged in 2020

Macy’s, the department store company that also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, said Tuesday that its net sales in 2020 tumbled 29 percent to $17.3 billion, highlighting the toll that the pandemic has taken on mall chains and apparel stores. The retailer swung to a net loss of $3.9 billion for the year that ended Jan. 31, from a $564 million profit the prior year. But the company said it “anticipates 2021 as a recovery and rebuilding year,” with momentum building in the second half, particularly after a better than expected fourth quarter and holiday selling season, which was profitable even as sales dropped by 19 percent from the same period a year earlier. — NEW YORK TIMES

FOOD

Oatly to file for IPO

Oatly AB, the vegan food and drink maker backed by celebrity entrepreneurs Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering in the United States. The listing will take place once the Securities and Exchange Commission has completed a review process, Malmo, Sweden-based Oatly said in a statement Tuesday. Oatly was founded in the 1990s by brothers Rickard and Bjorn Oste. Using technology based on research from Sweden’s Lund University, the company turns fiber-rich oats into liquid food. Its products continue to attract a following among latte drinkers from New York to Shanghai, thanks to frothing qualities that emulate dairy milk. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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HOME IMPROVEMENT

Home Depot big winner during pandemic

The housing market was among the very few bright spots for the US economy in the year of the lockdown and Home Depot became its supplier, racking up an unprecedented $132 billion in sales for 2020. Sales grew even stronger in the final quarter of the year, surging 25 percent to $32.26 billion. That is up from $25.78 billion in the same period last year and exceeded even the lofty projections for $30.66 billion on Wall Street, according to a survey of analysts by Zacks Investment Research. Home improvement stores became a beehive during the pandemic with millions working from home and attending school remotely. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

FINANCE

Chase develops investment product for Black-owned banks

JPMorgan Chase developed an investment product for Black-owned banks and made equity investments in four minority depository institutions, part of an earlier pledge to help address the US racial wealth gap. The product — a special class of shares in JPMorgan’s Empower money market fund — will initially be distributed by the Harbor Bank of Maryland, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank, and Unity National Bank, according to a statement Tuesday. JPMorgan said it will share the assets and fees generated from the offering with the banks that distribute it, and will donate 12.5 percent of the annual revenue it makes from management fees to efforts aimed at boosting community development. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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FINANCE

Wells Fargo to sell asset-management business

Wells Fargo plans to sell its asset-management business to two private equity firms, part of chief executive Charlie Scharf’s efforts to dump non-essential operations and help the bank emerge from years of scandals. GTCR LLC and Reverence Capital Partners agreed to buy Wells Fargo Asset Management for $2.1 billion, according to a statement Tuesday. The unit has $603 billion of assets under management and employs more than 450 investment professionals. Scharf, who took the reins in late 2019, has conducted deep reviews of Wells Fargo’s businesses, and said earlier this year that divestitures would help improve the company’s focus. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

HOTELS

Marriott names a new CEO after death of Sorenson

Marriott named Tony Capuano as chief executive officer, tapping the veteran development executive to lead the hotel giant’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Capuano, 55, will replace Arne Sorenson, who died at 62 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to a statement on Tuesday. He becomes just the fourth leader in the company’s history and faces the daunting task of navigating a global crisis that has sapped travel demand and raised doubts about the long-term prospects for corporate travel. Capuano was one of two executives running the company’s day-to-day operations in recent weeks, after Sorenson stepped back to undergo treatment. — BLOOMBERG NEWS