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ValueActs Ubben says firm disinvesting because of overheated valuations


´╗┐NEW YORK Jeffrey Ubben, the chief executive of ValueAct Capital, told Reuters on Wednesday that his firm has been disinvesting in the capital markets as valuations have become overextended, leaving it with $3 billion in cash. "I really feel that the large-cap activist plays are very treacherous with high PEs (price-to-earnings) and not a lot of growth," Ubben said, speaking at the Reuters "Future of Shareholder Activism" event in New York.

ValueAct, based in San Francisco, manages around $16 billion. The fund's largest holding is a $2.4 billion stake in Microsoft Corp, the software company where ValueAct partner Mason Morfit is also a board director.

Wells Fargo fires four executives amid probe into account scandal


´╗┐Wells Fargo & Co has fired four mid-level executives and stripped them of bonuses and stock awards as a result of an investigation into improper sales practices in its retail bank, the company announced on Tuesday. The board of directors voted unanimously to fire them for cause as part of its investigation into employees opening as many as 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without customers' permission. Since the scandal and paying a $185 million fine to the U.S. government, the third-largest U.S. bank by deposits has been trying to show it is holding management accountable. The scandal led to the departure of former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf last October, who along with another executive forfeited tens of millions of dollars in compensation. The most recent firings include Claudia Russ Anderson, former chief risk officer for the Wells Fargo branch banking unit where the sales problems occurred. She took a personal leave from the bank in September, bank spokeswoman Mary Eshet said. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The others fired by the bank were Pamela Conboy, Arizona lead regional president; Shelley Freeman, former Los Angeles regional president and now head of consumer credit solutions; and Matthew Raphaelson, head of community bank strategy and initiatives. None of them could be reached for comment. The four executives will not get bonuses for 2016 and will forfeit unvested equity awards and vested outstanding options. The scandal also led to the firing of thousands of low-level executives.

A spokesman for the Wells Fargo board of directors, Paul Scarpetta at Sard Verbinnen & Co, declined to comment further. Wells Fargo said on Tuesday the board's investigation was ongoing and was expected to be completed before the company's annual shareholder meeting in April.

U.S. court upholds dismissal of hedge funds' Freddie and Fannie claims A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday shut down efforts by hedge funds and other investors to pursue many legal claims accusing the U.S. government of seizing profits of mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac following their taxpayer bailouts.

Proposed ETF would track flowering marijuana market: regulatory filing An investment company is making plans to launch what could be the first exchange-traded fund to profit on marijuana.

BlackRock's largest mutual fund sours on Google NEW YORK Managers of BlackRock Inc's largest mutual fund, fearing Trump administration policies could hurt technology companies with hefty foreign revenue streams, have reshuffled their top holdings, and it appears one of the first casualties is Google.