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HarborOne to lay off more than 40 as branch business slows


HarborOne to lay off more than 40 as branch business slows

HarborOne Bank is trimming more than 40 jobs as it reacts to a big slowdown in branch transactions, in what marks the first round of layoffs in the institution’s history. The Brockton-based bank had been seeing the volume of transactions slow by 8 percent, year over year, in 2018 and 2019, but the drop in activity accelerated significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic with year-over-year declines exceeding 40 percent, according to chief executive Jim Blake. Initially, the bank only operated drive-through windows during the pandemic. But Blake has now reopened all 25 of its branches as of two weeks ago, although more than 200 bank employees are still working from home. Blake said 42 workers were told on Wednesday they would be losing their jobs, or about 9 percent of the bank’s 454 workers (a number that excludes employees of a mortgage banking affiliate). They will receive severance pay and job search assistance. Most of those job losses are taking place among the branches. The bank plans to report a restructuring expense of $640,000 as a result during this quarter, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while it plans to save $2.8 million a year with the cuts. The bank is continuing to add branches, despite this slowdown, but they will be smaller in size than what has been typical in the past. Branches in South Boston and Quincy are in the works. — JON CHESTO


Cisco Systems’ stock plummets on sales forecast

Cisco Systems Inc. shares tumbled more than 11 percent Thursday after the company gave a lackluster sales forecast, signaling that businesses are spending less in the pandemic-driven recession. Chief executive Chuck Robbins pledged to reduce expenses by $1 billion through a reorganization that will include job cuts and early retirement for some workers. The plan will cost about $900 million, which will include severance and other ‘‘termination benefits,’’ the company said in a regulatory filing. Chief financial officer Kelly Kramer is also leaving. A large chunk of Cisco’s revenue comes from government agencies, small and medium-sized businesses, and providers of Internet and online video services. While some larger companies are still spending, many smaller customers have cut spending to adjust to an economic slowdown sparked by Covid-19 lockdowns. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



State Street opens its first office in Saudi Arabia

State Street Corp. has opened its first office in Saudi Arabia and hired Abdullah Saleh Bakhrebah from Ashmore Group Plc as chief executive officer for its operations in the kingdom. The Boston-based financial-services firm is entering Saudi Arabia as part of its plans to boost its presence in the Middle East, State Street said in a statement Thursday. It also hired Haifa Al Goufi as Middle East and North Africa chief compliance officer and Hassan Al Khalaf as chief financial officer for the region. International banks and investment firms including BlackRock, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse have opened offices in Saudi Arabia or increased their presence as the kingdom diversifies from oil and opens up its capital markets to foreign investors. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



German investigators ask public’s for help finding former COO of Wirecard

German investigators are appealing for the public’s help in tracking down the former chief operating officer of bankrupt payment company Wirecard who is facing allegations of fraud and other charges. Federal police issued a wanted poster late Wednesday for Jan Marsalek, saying the 40-year-old Austrian is suspected to have fled Germany after learning authorities were after him. Interpol put Marsalek on its most-wanted list Thursday, issuing a so-called red notice for him on allegations of “violations of the German duty on securities act and the securities trading act, criminal breach of trust (and) especially serious case of fraud.” Munich-based Wirecard filed for protection from creditors through an insolvency proceeding on June 25 after executives admitted that 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) that had been represented as being held in trust accounts in the Philippines probably did not exist. Former CEO Markus Braun has been arrested, along with the company’s former chief financial officer and former head of accounting. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



American Airlines could drop flights to as many as 30 cities

American Airlines is planning to drop flights to up to 30 smaller US cities if a federal requirement to continue those flights expires at the end of next month, an airline official familiar with the matter said Thursday. American agreed to keep serving those smaller cities as a condition of receiving $5.8 billion in federal payroll help this spring. However, the money and the requirement to serve those destinations both expire Sept. 30 unless they are extended. The move by American could put more pressure on Congress and the White House to give passenger airlines another $25 billion for labor costs. Airline unions and the airlines, which are struggling with a steep downturn in revenue as the pandemic undercuts air travel, are lobbying Congress for the money. The American Airlines official did not detail which cities could lose service, but the changes could appear in schedules as early as next week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning that has not been made public. American’s plans were first reported by CNBC. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Franklin Templeton discussing investing in Allbirds

Franklin Templeton is in talks to invest in shoemaker Allbirds Inc. at a premium to its $1.4 billion valuation in 2018, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Founded by Joey Zwillinger and Tim Brown, the San Francisco-based company posted around $190 million in net revenue last year, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Allbirds, which last year called out Amazon.com Inc. for allegedly copying its $95 sneakers made from fine merino wool, raised funds from investors including T. Rowe Price and Fidelity in 2018. Its best-known shoes made from wool fleece became a Silicon Valley staple after their 2016 launch. Other Allbirds investors include Tiger Global Management, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Maveron, a consumer-focused venture capital firm co-founded by former Starbucks Corp. chief executive Howard Schultz. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Rates rise but still historically low

US average rates on long-term mortgages rose this week but remained at historically low levels. The key 30-year loan stayed below 3 percent. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan increased to 2.96 percent from 2.88 percent last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.60 percent a year ago. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.46 percent from 2.44 percent from last week. — ASSOCIATED PRESS