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FT

Why Goldman staff should not bank on limitless holidays

Unrestricted vacation policies tend to lead to fewer days taken off

Allianz funds scandal hands US prosecutors a $6bn scalp

Settlement by Europe’s largest insurer comes as authorities vow to get tougher on white collar crime

Crypto lender Celsius stung by sell-off in digital asset market

Value of customer assets deposited on platform has shrunk by half since the start of 2022

Endgadget

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison joined call about contesting Trump’s election loss

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was involved in a call where a number of influential GOP figures—including Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Fox News anchor Sean Hannity and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow — brainstormed ways to contest the 2020 presidential election, reported the Washington Post. Details of the call which occurred on November 14, 2020 were revealed in new court filings from a lawsuit brought by voting rights organization Fair Fight against True The Vote, a conservative Texas vote monitoring organization that disputes the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Jim was on a call this evening with Jay Sekulow, Lindsey O. Graham, Sean Hannity, and Larry Ellison,” True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, wrote to a donor, according to court filings reviewed by the Post. “He explained the work we were doing and they asked for a preliminary report asap, to be used to rally their troops internally, so that’s what I’m working on now.”

Ellison is a high-profile GOP donor and has hosted fundraisers for former president Donald Trump. He has seemingly never expressed doubts about the 2020 election results publicly. While the CEO has donated to both parties over the years as the Palm Desert Sunpoints out, he’s poured a substantial amount of money into the GOP and conservative causes since the 2020 election. His $15 million donation in February to a super PAC associated with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is one of the largest of the 2022 election cycle so far.

Ellison's proximity to Trump has led to concerns that Oracle may have had an unfair advantage in competing for federal contracts during the former administration. Oracle nabbed a lucrative contract in 2020 to aid the Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on doctors who treat COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by Trump. It is also nearing a deal with TikTok to store their US data, which Trump approved in 2020.

Hyundai's first all-EV factory in the US will be in Georgia

Hyundai is betting big on American electric vehicle sales. The automaker has struck a deal with Georgia to build its first dedicated EV factory in the US. The 2,923-acre plant near Savannah will make cars and batteries when production is projected to start in the first half of 2025. Construction starts in early 2023. The company expects to manufacture 300,000 EVs per year at the facility, covering a "wide range" of models.

Multiple factors led to the location choice. Hyundai pointed to "favorable business conditions" that included speedy market access, a large talent pool and an existing network that includes Kia's main manufacturing hub as well as suppliers. Unnamed incentives play a part, according to Savannah Morning News. However, it's also a prime spot for transportation. The factory is less than 31 miles from Savannah's port, which is the largest container stopover in the US and has two railway facilities at its disposal. Add the proximity of two major highways (the I-95 and I-16) and it will be easy for Hyundai to receive supplies and ship finished EVs.

Not surprisingly, both Georgia and Hyundai are touting economic benefits. They estimate the investment to be worth $5.54 billion, with Governor Brian Kemp claiming it will be the "largest project" in state history. Hyundai further claimed the plant would create 8,100 jobs, although it's not clear how many of those are full-time, permanent roles.

The annual production level won't be quite as strong as Hyundai's conventional manufacturing output. The company's Montgomery, Alabama plant can make up to 399,500 vehicles per year. This represents a major commitment to EVs, however, and suggests Hyundai is racing to compete with Tesla, Rivian, Volkswagen and other brands expanding their electric car production in the country.

The FCC has a plan to boost rural broadband download speeds to 100 Mbps

The Federal Communications Commission is aiming to boost rural broadband internet speeds through proposed changes to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program. The target is to improve minimum download and upload speeds to 100/20 Mbps in areas served by carriers that receive A-CAM support. The current baseline is 25/3 Mbps.

The A-CAM Broadband Coalition proposed the creation of an Enhanced A-CAM program. The goal is to improve broadband speeds to the levels specified in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) while avoiding the duplication of efforts across various federal programs.

The notice of proposed rulemaking, which commissioners approved, seeks comment on how the FCC could bolster A-CAM support under an enhanced program and whether the current A-CAM framework even still makes sense. It's also seeking comment on how to align the Enhanced A-CAM program with Congressional goals and programs at other agencies.

"With additional funding and an expansion of the length of time under which electing carriers would receive support, these carriers would increase deployment speeds up to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload in some of the most challenging and expensive areas to serve in the country," Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said in a statement. "[Some] consumers served by A-CAM carriers could see a four-fold, 10-fold or even 20-fold increase in their speeds."

Last week, using funding allocated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration launched a $45 billion project to bring all Americans online by 2030 and eliminate the digital divide. Officials have also teamed up with internet providers to subsidize the cost of broadband for low-income households.

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