Talking Points

TALKING POINTS

The week in business

VENTURE CAPITAL

Former MBTA chief raises $180m for new venture capital fund

Former MBTA chief Brian Shortsleeve has raised $180 million for a new venture capital fund, returning to the industry he worked in before Governor Charlie Baker asked him to help turn around the state’s ailing transportation system. Shortsleeve’s new firm is M33 Growth and is based in Boston, he said. His partners in the fund are Gabriel Ling and Michael Anello, investors he worked with previously at the Cambridge venture firm General Catalyst.The fund, which raised money from endowments, institutions, and chief executives, will invest in young, fast-growing companies that haven’t yet taken money from other investors, Shortsleeve said. He’s aiming high in his first gig after a two-year dive into the T’s troubled finances and pension system, aging train cars, and operations issues. The name M33 is inspired by Mach 33, the speed at which an object breaks out of the earth’s gravitational pull. The firm plans to make investments in software and health care companies, as well as “disruptive services,” that use technology to change businesses. Shortsleeve said most of the firm’s investments will be between $10 million and $30 million. The three cofounders and general partners of M33 have been friends for more than a decade, said Shortsleeve, 45. Anello, who is 30, has operations experience with a number of companies since his General Catalyst days, including Tesla. Ling, 35, was most recently a partner at General Catalyst, where he worked on health care services companies and other deals. Shortsleeve stepped down from the T earlier this year to return to the private sector. He was appointed to the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board and to the state Department of Transportation board in June. — BETH HEALY

ENERGY

Environmental group accuses Eversource
and Avangrid
of driving up electric, gas rates

An environmental group is contending that utilities Eversource and Avangrid drove up electric and natural gas rates over several winters by buying up shipment capacity on a major pipeline that they ultimately did not use. The Environmental Defense Fund said both utilities routinely reserved big deliveries of natural gas on the Algonquin pipeline system for frigid days, but then sharply reduced those orders too late in the day for others to use that capacity. Those orders had the effect of driving up wholesale prices for natural gas during peak winter heating periods and in turn increasing the costs of electricity generated by gas-fired power plants. The two utilities “engaged in behavior that would tend to have the largest impact on prices,” said N. Jonathan Peress, a senior director at the New York-based environmental group. “That implies they knew their efforts would have some sort of pricing impact that would provide them with some commercial benefit.” Representatives for both utilities denied they did anything improper. Instead they said the utilities’ actions were in the best interests of their natural gas customers, to ensure they had sufficient fuel for heating and other purposes on especially cold days. “Our sole motivation is to plan conservatively to meet our customers’ needs,” said James Daly, vice president of energy supply for Eversource, the largest utility in New England. “It’s a very serious issue if you run short.” When Eversource knows it no longer needs the full gas capacity it ordered, Daly said, the company tries to release it back to the market as soon as possible, with the hopes of receiving some sort of payment for that pre-ordered capacity. Avangrid is a Connecticut-based company that owns eight electric and natural gas utilities in the Northeast. Spokesman Michael West said: “For us, it’s about making sure our customers have complete and reliable service under all conditions.” — JON CHESTO

INVESTMENTS

Fidelity fires top fund manager accused of sexual harassment

Fidelity Investments fired one of its top fund managers after he was accused of sexual harassment by a female employee, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. The decision to dismiss 41-year-old Gavin Baker was made by Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson after a 26-year-old equity research analyst filed a complaint against Baker with the human resources department, the person said. His firing was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Baker managed the $14.6 billion Fidelity OTC Portfolio and was known as a savvy investor in technology stocks. He also bought stakes in privately held companies such as Uber. “Gavin left Fidelity amicably a few weeks before planning to become engaged to his longtime girlfriend who is an analyst and fund manager there, as he believes his new fiancee and he should not work at the same firm,” a spokeswoman for Baker said in a statement. “After a great 18 years at Fidelity that he’s very grateful to have experienced he’s excited to begin a new job later this month.” A Fidelity spokesman declined to comment on Baker. “However, speaking generally, when allegations of these sorts arise, we investigate them immediately and take prompt and appropriate action,” he said. Baker’s fund, which he took over in July 2009, has returned 33.4 percent this year, compared with 23.5 percent for the Nasdaq Composite index, according to Bloomberg data. Sonu Kalra and Christopher Lin were named managers of the fund on Sept. 18, according to a regulatory filing. — GLOBE STAFF

LEGAL

Worcester home health care company charged with stealing $2.7m from Medicaid

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The owner of a Worcester company that provides home health care services was arrested Wednesday and charged with stealing $2.7 million from the state Medicaid program, in the latest case of alleged fraud in the home health industry. Hellen Kiago of Sturbridge was charged with larceny and making false Medicaid claims after a grand jury returned indictments against Kiago and her company, Lifestream Healthcare Alliance LLC, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said Wednesday. Kiago, 47, is accused of using her company to overbill the state Medicaid program, called MassHealth, for services that were not authorized by a physician. Kiago allegedly instructed an employee to forge physician signatures. The overbilling occurred since at least July 2015, according to the attorney general’s office. Kiago pleaded not guilty in Worcester Superior Court, and her bail was set at $100,000 cash — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCLUSKEY

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

First billboard ads for dispensary

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Massachusetts commuters caught a glimpse of the future out their car windows last week: the state’s first billboard ads for a marijuana dispensary. New England Treatment Access, or NETA, which operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Brookline and Northampton, has purchased space on four billboards: two on the Massachusetts Turnpike near Exit 5 in Chicopee, one on Route 28 in Somerville, and another near the Mass. Ave. exit off Interstate 93 in Boston. The ads are simple: Set against a bright green background, they read, “Why wait for better health?” and carry NETA’s Web address. Norton Arbelaez, the nonprofit’s director of government affairs, said the ads are directed toward two groups: those who have considered using marijuana for medical reasons but haven’t followed through, and those who currently use the drug but obtain it from black-market dealers or gray-market “caregiver” delivery services. About 45,000 Massachusetts residents so far have registered as medical marijuana patients with the state. But not all of them frequent dispensaries, Arbelaez said, and NETA’s studies of use rates in other states suggest that up to 120,000 patients here could benefit from the drug. — DAN ADAMS