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TALKING POINTS

Greentown Labs expands to Houston

Somerville-based Greentown Labs, a clean-tech incubator, has made its first out of state expansion by opening a center in Houston.
Somerville-based Greentown Labs, a clean-tech incubator, has made its first out of state expansion by opening a center in Houston.Sanford Tyson Smith/Copyright © 2017 Sanford Tyson

STARTUPS

Greentown Labs expands to Houston

Greentown Labs has opened its first location outside of Massachusetts, in the heart of the energy industry in Houston. The Somerville-based clean-tech incubator said about 30 startups will be part of the Houston operation at the start, and will they will begin moving into the space in the next few weeks. Greentown expects some of its Boston-area members may also take desks in the Houston space, because many current and potential customers are in the Houston area. — JON CHESTO

LAB EQUIPMENT

Waters Corp. gets a new CFO

Milford-based lab equipment company Waters Corp. has hired a new chief financial officer: Amol Chaubal will take over the CFO job on May 12, reporting to chief executive Udit Batra. Chaubal is joining from Quanterix Corp., a Billerica life sciences company where he was CFO since April 2019. Michael Silveira has been the interim CFO since January, after Sherry Buck left to join W.L. Gore & Associates; Silveira will resume his old job as corporate controller and also become chief accounting officer, reporting to Chaubal. — JON CHESTO

MORTGAGES

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Rates fall for a third week

Mortgage rates fell for the third straight week, dipping below 3 percent for the first time in two months. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the benchmark 30-year home-loan rate declined to 2.97 percent this week from 3.04 percent last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.33 percent. The rate for a 15-year loan, popular among those looking to refinance, dipped to 2.29 percent from 2.35 percent the week before. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

REAL ESTATE

Home sales fall again on slim inventory

Sales of previously occupied homes fell for the second consecutive month in March because there are so few on the market, and the fierce competition for those that do exist is pushing prices to new highs. Existing home sales fell 3.7 percent last month from February to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 6.01 million annualized units, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Sales jumped 12.3 percent from March last year. Homes typically sold in 18 days last month, a record low. It’s less than the 20 days in February, and much faster than the average of 29 days last year at this time. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Norway, which eschews cash, looks to other ways to pay

The central bank of Norway, where old-fashioned cash is now used less than anywhere else in the world, says it’s time to take the next step in exploring the introduction of a digital currency. Only 3-4 percent of transactions in Norway are conducted with bank notes and coins, according to Norges Bank, which estimates that’s the lowest level of cash usage in the world. Norges Bank Governor Oystein Olsen, who in the past has seemed less enthusiastic about central bank digital currencies than his peers, says the case for looking into their feasibility now “has been strengthened.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS

MEDIA

NYT refuses to recognize tech workers union

The New York Times Co. said Thursday that it would not voluntarily recognize a newly formed union of tech and digital employees, instructing the group to put the matter to a formal vote through the National Labor Relations Board. The Times Tech Guild, a group affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York, had asked the company for recognition April 13, when it announced that a majority of tech workers had formed a union. The group includes software engineers, data analysts, designers, and product managers. In an e-mail to staff Thursday, Times chief executive Meredith Kopit Levien wrote that, since the union was formed, “we have heard questions and concerns from many of our colleagues about what this would really mean for their careers.” A NewsGuild spokesman said in a statement that The Times’ decision not to voluntarily recognize the union was “deeply disappointing” and “a sign of disrespect” to the company’s 1,400 union members. — NEW YORK TIMES

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FINANCE

UBS to pay bonuses to overworked junior bankers

UBS has introduced a new bonus for junior bankers and shifted the payment of incentives to August, as the bank seeks to support younger hires. The payment will apply to global banking analysts upon promotion, it said in a memo seen by Bloomberg and first reported by Financial News. The Swiss lender also said it’s seeking to quickly fill vacancies to alleviate the strain on staff. The bank also encouraged employees to take advantage of existing programs to support mental health, amid a rising tide of complaints in the industry about excessive workloads. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

German finance minister denies role in Wirecard collapse

Germany’s finance minister denied any responsibility on his or the government’s part for the scandal surrounding collapsed payment systems provider Wirecard, as he testified before lawmakers on Thursday. Wirecard filed for protection from creditors through insolvency proceedings in June after admitting that 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion) supposedly held in trust accounts in the Philippines probably didn’t exist. Some lawmakers have accused authorities — from financial supervisors to prosecutors and auditors — of looking the other way, despite reports of irregularities at Wirecard dating back at least five years. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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CLIMATE

Activists smash windows at HSBC in London to protest fossil fuel

Climate change activists have vandalized HSBC’s London headquarters, smashing windows in a protest against the bank’s alleged links to the fossil fuel industry. Nine women from the Extinction Rebellion activist group and political party Burning Pink targeted the building in Canary Wharf, London’s financial district, on Thursday. They used hammers and chisels on the building’s glass windows. HSBC said in a statement that it welcomes “meaningful dialogue on our climate strategy, however, we cannot condone vandalism or actions that put people and property at risk.” It added that it is committed to “phase out the financing of coal-fired power and thermal coal mining by 2040 globally.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS

SPORTING GOODS

Dick’s signs DeVonta Smith to endorse line of men’s apparel

Dick’s Sporting Goods has signed Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith to endorse its new line of men’s apparel, marking the first time the retailer has put an athlete behind its growing stable of private brands. Smith, a wide receiver from Alabama who’s likely a first-round selection in next week’s National Football League draft, will be the face of VRST (pronounced ’'Virst”), an activewear label that debuted last month online and in 400 Dick’s locations. Smith will feature in VRST’s marketing, merchandising, and represent the brand, which is targeted squarely at male customers of Lululemon’s athleisure gear. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INVESTMENTS

Former head of Xerox joins team starting fund focused on diversity, inclusion

Ursula Burns, the former head of Xerox, is teaming up with veterans of private equity to start a technology investment fund focused on diversity, inclusion, and social impact, as well as returns. Burns, who was the first Black female chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company, will serve as a founding partner of the new firm called Integrum. The other founders are Tagar Olson, a former partner at KKR & Co.; Richard Kunzer, previously of BC Partners; and Declan Kelly, who runs the CEO advisory firm Teneo. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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