News

National Grid moves into offshore wind

EQUITY

Demand for racial equity audit at State Street loses vote

A union-backed proposal to prompt State Street Corp. to oversee a racial equity audit of the company’s impacts on people of color failed to receive a majority of votes at the Boston-based financial services company’s annual meeting on Wednesday. The Service Employees International Union had filed the request, arguing in part that the company had no Black executives on its board of directors or among its top leadership ranks. A spokesman for the SEIU said the labor group’s proxy request received support from 37 percent of the shares that were voted. Similar campaigns that the SEIU attempted with other big companies, such as Citigroup and Johnson and Johnson, received similar outcomes. Meanwhile, a spokesman for State Street said the company has taken significant steps in this regard, including by joining the “Black Equity at Work” certification process run by the nonprofit Management Leadership for Tomorrow as well as a recent audit of the State Street foundation’s grant-making patterns. The spokesman said management did not believe the SEIU’s request would achieve more meaningful progress beyond what the company is already doing. — JON CHESTO

INTERNATIONAL

British rail network to be government controlled again

Britain plans to bring the national rail network back under government control, reversing one of the most controversial elements of the privatization drive carried out by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and ’90s. Under plans announced Thursday, the government will create a new entity known as Great British Railways that will own all railroad infrastructure, set most fares and schedules, collect ticket revenue, and run a single ticketing website. Private companies will continue to operate trains under contracts with the state. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

CASINOS

Smoking likely to resume inside N.J. casinos

It took a pandemic to halt smoking inside more than 1,000 US gambling venues. Now that the economy is reopening, tobacco opponents are urging elected officials and casino operators to make the restriction permanent. In New Jersey, the casino smoking ban — like indoor masking, capacity restrictions, and other statewide emergency rules — will be lifted next month, so long as hospitalization and vaccination trends continue. Many state officials say they’re not ready to advocate for a smoke-free Atlantic City as the industry continues to struggle. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

AUTOMOTIVE

Ford and partner to build battery factories

Ford is forming a joint venture with one of its battery suppliers that will build two North American factories to make batteries for roughly 600,000 electric vehicles per year by the middle of this decade. The deal with SK Innovation of Korea, announced Thursday, sets up a potential confrontation between the companies and the United Auto Workers, which issued a statement saying Ford has a moral obligation to make sure plant workers are paid union wages. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOCIAL MEDIA

‘Notable’ Twitter users can now be officially verified

Twitter users with high profiles can now apply to have their accounts officially verified with a check mark as part of a revamped approval process meant to more clearly explain how and why people are verified The social network’s users can apply for the badge if they think they fall into one of the allotted categories — like sports, government, or entertainment. Applicants must also be “notable” and “represent or otherwise be associated with a prominently recognized individual or brand” in order to be verified, Twitter said. The “blue check mark” has long been used to distinguish well-known or corporate accounts from potential impostors. But there are only about 360,000 verified Twitter accounts, according to B Byrne, a Twitter product manager focused on verification. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Kohl’s sales have recovered but not as much as analysts wanted

Kohl’s raised its financial outlook for the year after a solid rebound in the first quarter from the devastating impact of the pandemic. But those raised expectations fell short of what many industry analysts had been expecting and shares plunged 12 percent Thursday. More shoppers came back to shop in stores as COVID-19 vaccinations become more common and Kohl’s bounced back to a profit after the chain, based in Menomonee Fall, Wis., lost money last year when it was forced close its doors. While quarterly sales and profits topped almost all expectations, Kohl’s said it expects net sales to increase only in the mid-to-high teens percentage range. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

REAL ESTATE

Seattle supplants NYC as top choice for foreign investors

Manhattan lost its crown as the top choice for foreign investors buying US property, with offices falling out of favor amid the pandemic and money moving into industrial properties. Overseas investments in Manhattan real estate plunged 79 percent in the 12 months through March to about $2 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics. That came as cross-border investors poured $10.6 billion into US warehouse and logistics properties — a 39 percent increase and the first time they outpaced international spending on office buildings, Seattle climbed to No. 1 with $2.5 billion in foreign investment, down 11 percent from the prior 12-month period. The Northwestern city, home to tech powerhouses Amazon and Microsoft, continued to lure money from nearby Canada, the biggest source of foreign capital in US real estate. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

MOVIES

Hollywood producers form a union

Hollywood writers, directors, and actors have long had labor unions to fight on their behalf. Now movie producers are looking to gain the same kind of leverage. Over 100 producers have formed a new collective-bargaining organization, according to a statement Thursday. The group, called the Producers Union, will seek to set standards on salary, pension, health plans, and the rights of its members when they’re working on projects. More broadly, the union hopes to formally define an often-amorphous role, and collectively respond to changes in the industry. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

MORTGAGES

Rates edge higher

Mortgage rates rose this week, pushing the benchmark 30-year home loan to the 3 percent mark for the first time since mid-April. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average for the benchmark 30-year home-loan rate increased to 3 percent from 2.94 percent last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.24 percent. The rate for a 15-year loan, popular among those seeking to refinance, rose to 2.29 percent from 2.26 percent last week. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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