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Kamala Harris to join Greater Washington Partnership to unveil investment

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Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday will join a group that includes leaders of corporate giants to promote a $4.7 billion commitment to boosting minority-owned businesses and underrepresented communities in Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas.

Harris will speak at an event at Howard University where the Greater Washington Partnership, a nonprofit civic alliance, will unveil the five-year, multibillion-dollar pledge. The funds will go toward businesses and communities in the capital region, including to areas such as Washington D.C., Richmond and Baltimore.

Harris is an alumna of Howard, a prestigious historically Black university in Washington. Other Biden administration officials such as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman will also appear at the event.

A White House official told CNBC in an email on Monday that Harris will “discuss how supporting community lenders will provide more access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs and build a more fair, efficient, and equitable economy.” A spokesperson for the SBA told CNBC that Guzman will be speaking at the Wednesday event.

The gathering marks a new step by both corporate leaders and the Biden administration to aid minority-owned companies. Businesses and public officials made a wave of pledges to help communities of color after a racial justice reckoning sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, and followed through on them with varying degrees of success.

Peter Scher, a vice chair at banking giant JPMorgan Chase and the chair of the Greater Washington Partnership board, told CNBC that Floyd’s murder and the dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic led corporate and university members of the group to consider how to better help minority communities.

“Between Covid’s disproportionate impact on underserved communities and George Floyd becoming a reckoning for a lot of companies and communities about the need to do more to address inequities in regions, and the future of work, all of these factors became a powerful accelerator for our business partnership,” Scher said on Monday.

Rosie Allen-Herring, president and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area, said members wanted to move ahead with a real commitment rather than talk about it.

“As a member of the inclusive growth counsel, the conversations were really about no longer lip service but how do we make a true commitment to moving the needle on this tough challenge for us, not only as a region, but as a country,” Allen-Herring told CNBC in an interview.

Floyd, a Black man, was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin nearly two years ago. Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison after being found guilty of murder and manslaughter last year.

Floyd’s death at the hands of police led to months of discussions about racial inequities in the U.S. economy, justice system and schools — among other areas — and what policymakers and businesses can do to reduce them.

The Greater Washington Partnership said that over a dozen of its members are contributing to its new effort. They include Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Howard University and Georgetown University. All of the companies participating have senior officials on the Greater Washington Partnership board.

The funds over five years will go in part toward procurement spending that could help minority-owned businesses, particularly companies run by Black and Latino people.

Other pieces of the massive investment will target wealth-building opportunities, including direct corporate investments in affordable housing. Another portion of the funds will target local Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions. These financial and depository institutions are meant to help provide access to capital for underrepresented communities.

Andy Navarrete, Capital One’s executive vice president and head of external affairs, gave details to their role in the massive investment.

“Alongside our Greater Washington Partnership peers, we are leveraging our collective scale and resources to provide access to capital for groups that have been historically underfunded; increase investment in Black and Hispanic-owned businesses; and break down structural barriers that persist for Black and Brown communities,” Navarrete told CNBC in a statement on Monday.

A spokesperson for Georgetown referred CNBC on Monday to the university’s previously announced effort to engage with diverse companies. An Amazon spokesperson pointed CNBC to the Amazon Housing Equity Fund and their over $124 million commitment to creating more than 1,000 affordable homes.

A spokesperson for Howard University did not respond to requests for comment. A representative for Raimondo did not return an email seeking comment.



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Boeing to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs in finance and HR, report says

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Boeing expects to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs this year in finance and human resources through a combination of attrition and layoffs, the planemaker confirmed to Seattle Times newspaper on Monday.

Last month, the Virginia-based company announced it would hire 10,000 workers in 2023, but some support positions would be cut.

Back then Boeing acknowledged it will “lower staffing within some support functions” – a move meant to enable it to better align resources to support current products and technology development.

“Over time, some of our corporate functions have grown quite large. And with that growth tends to come bureaucracy or disparate systems that are inefficient,” the newspaper quoted Mike Friedman, a senior director of communications at Boeing as saying. “So we’re streamlining.”

Boeing did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. 

Last year, Boeing said it plans to cut about 150 finance jobs in the United States to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.

Watch CNBC's full interview with Boeing's Dave Calhoun



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Trump appeals sanctions for ‘frivolous’ suit against Hillary Clinton

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presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attend campaign rallies in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2016 and Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., October 24, 2016 in a combination of file photos.

Mike Segar | Carlos Barria | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump and one of his lawyers said Monday they are appealing nearly $1 million in sanctions imposed on them for what a federal judge called their “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and more than two dozen other defendants.

The court filing about the appeal came days after a lawyer for Trump and his attorney Alina Habba told the judge in the case they were willing to put up a bond of $1,031,788 to cover the costs of the sanctions while the federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit considered the matter.

In imposing those sanctions Jan. 19, Judge John Middlebrooks said in an order, “We are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”

Trump’s suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused Clinton, former FBI officials, the Democratic National Committee and others of conspiring to create a “false narrative” that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign against Clinton were colluding with Russia to try to win the election that year.

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Middlebrooks in September dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and barred Trump from refiling the complaint.

He later ordered Trump and Habba to pay more than $937,000 in sanctions.

Middlebrooks in his sanctions order called Trump “a mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process,” and a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”

A day after Middlebrooks issued that order, Trump voluntarily dropped another lawsuit he had pending before the same judge against New York Attorney General Letitia James. That suit was related to James’ pending $250 million fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company in Manhattan state court.

Jared Roberts, the lawyer for Trump and Habba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the appeal.



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Nissan to buy up to 15% stake in Renault EV unit under reshaped alliance

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Pavlo Gonchar | LightRocket | Getty Images

Nissan and Renault on Monday unveiled details of their redesigned alliance, with the Japanese car maker committing to buy a stake of up to 15% in Renault’s electric vehicles unit Ampere.

The alliance junior partner Mitsubishi Motors will also consider investing in Ampere, which Renault aims to list, the companies said in a statement.

“Nissan’s intention is to invest up to 15% in Ampere, Renault Group’s EV & Software entity in Europe, with the aim to become a strategic investor,” the statement said ahead of a presentation in London.

The companies had already announced that under the deal to revive their long-standing alliance the French carmaker would reduce its stake in its Japanese partner to 15% from around 43% now.

Renault will transfer 28.4% of Nissan shares into a French trust, making the two more equal partners in the alliance.

Sources close to the matter said the agreement aimed to make the alliance freer and more balanced for the next 15 years.

The partnership will produce synergies from joint projects in Europe, India and Latin America, and the companies will work together in Renault’s flagship EV business, electronics and solid-state batteries. 

Renault will have flexibility to sell the Nissan shares held in the trust but “it has no obligation to sell the shares within a specific pre-determined period of time,” the statement on Monday said.

When it does sell, “Nissan would benefit from a right of first offer, to its or the benefit of a designated third party.”

The two companies last month announced a sweeping remake of their 24-year-old automaking alliance, which was thrown into disarray by the ouster of its architect and former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, amid financial scandal.

That announcement came after nearly four months of intense talks complicated by concerns about the sharing of intellectual property as Renault sought tie-ups with companies outside their alliance.

Renault’s board approved the deal on Sunday night, according to a source. Nissan’s board also approved it early on Monday, the source said.

Investors and analysts will be looking for more clarity on how the trust in which Renault will place the bulk of its Nissan stake will operate.

“There is absolutely no word about what’s going to happen to those shares in the trust,” said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter. “It seems they’re all avoiding the issue of Nissan buying them back which I think would be the best thing for all parties involved.”

Richter said Renault’s brand is not seen as being a strong brand, so it may be tough for the French carmaker to raise money for Ampere.

“I wonder once this thing goes into the market how much money you would really raise, he said. “That’s why I think they’re going to push Nissan to pay too much.”

The unequal relationship between the two carmakers had long been a source of friction among Nissan executives.

While Renault bailed out Nissan two decades ago, it is the smaller automaker by sales.

CLSA’s Richter said that the revamped alliance could enable Nissan and Renault to work together on R&D, shared costs and a few shared products “with a little bit less rancor and acrimony between them,” but added that Honda and General Motors <GM.N> have built a partnership that includes jointly developing lower-cost EVs together without any need for a capital relationship.

“One almost wonders what’s the point of them having any stake in either one, any stake at all,” Richter said.



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