Business & Tech

TALKING POINTS

LendingClub buys Radius Bank

FINANCE

LendingClub buys Radius Bank

San Francisco-based online lender LendingClub is branching into the brick-and-mortar banking business, and it’s doing so through the purchase of a Boston bank. LendingClub announced an agreement to acquire Radius Bank in a deal valued at $185 million. Radius, which has more than $1.4 billion in assets, now bills itself as a “leading online bank,” with one branch at its headquarters in South Boston. The New England Regional Council of Carpenters started the bank in 1987, and the institution was long known as First Trade Union Bank. The name changed to Radius more than five years ago, and the union funds that once controlled the bank subsequently sold off most of their stake. Radius has about 160 employees today,and is currently owned by several investment groups: Patriot Financial, GCP Capital Partners, Endicott Group, and BayBoston. A spokeswoman said a decision has not yet been made about whether the Radius brand name will continue. — JON CHESTO

INTERNATIONAL

Netherlands reaping a Brexit benefit

Ongoing uncertainty about the effects of Brexit is pushing an increasing number of foreign companies to set up offices in the Netherlands, the Dutch government said Wednesday. Since the 2016 referendum on Britain leaving the European Union, 140 businesses have established a presence in the Netherlands, with 78 shifting operations there last year, according to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TECHNOLOGY

EU moves
to regulate artificial intelligence

US and Chinese firms hoping to deploy artificial intelligence and other technology in Europe would have to submit to a slew of new rules and tests under a set of plans unveiled by the European Union to boost the bloc’s digital economy. The legislative plans, outlined Wednesday by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, are designed to help Europe compete with the United States and China’s technological power while championing EU rights. On artificial intelligence, users and developers of AI systems used in high-risk fields, such as health, policing, or transportation, would face legal requirements, including tests by authorities, which could also certify the data used by algorithms, the Commission said. High-risk AI could also face sanctions, while lower-risk applications should abide by a voluntary labeling program, the body said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

CONSTRUCTION

Building of new homes up a bit in January

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Construction of new homes edged back slightly in January after a December surge that had pushed home construction to the highest level in 13 years. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that builders started construction on 1.57 million homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a decline of 3.6 percent from 1.63 million units in December. That had been the highest point since late 2006 at the peak of the housing boom of the last decade. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOCIAL MEDIA

German Cabinet approves bill requiring social media sites to report hate speech

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The German Cabinet has approved a bill that will require social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube to report certain hate speech to the police. According to the bill passed by ministers Wednesday, Internet companies will have to flag far-right propaganda, graphic portrayals of violence, murder or rape threats, posts indicating that someone is preparing a terrorist attack, or distributing child sexual abuse images. Social media sites are already required to delete such posts. The measures, which still need to be approved by parliament, will also see the definition of criminal hate speech extended to include threats of rape or property damage and expressions of approval for serious crimes. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

E-COMMERCE

Struggling Groupon to stop selling goods

Groupon Inc. plummeted a record 38 percent to an all-time low after delivering worse-than-expected results and announcing plans to stop selling goods — a retreat for a company that once aspired to be a major shopping service. Groupon Goods, an e-commerce site for products like phone chargers and coats, was an attempt to attract new customers and decrease the company’s reliance on its core business — selling daily deals and other discounts. But the business’s contribution to profit has been declining for four quarters, and consumers have lost interest, Groupon said. That’s why it plans to phase out the program this year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Christian theme park in Orlando lays off most staff

A Christian-oriented theme park in central Florida that describes itself as “bringing the Bible to life” is laying off most of its workers. The Holy Land Experience last week filed notice with the city of Orlando and state officials that it would be eliminating 118 positions. That represents most of the jobs at the theme park in Orlando’s tourist corridor. Holy Land Experience officials said in a letter that they were shifting focus from entertainment and theatrical productions to the park’s Biblical Museum. Theme parks officials said the layoffs would take place by mid-April. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

RETAIL

New owners of Forever 21 vow
to keep most
stores open

Forever 21 Inc.’s new owners plan to keep most of the fast-fashion chain’s US stores open under a new chief executive officer in the coming weeks when it emerges from bankruptcy. Owners Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group Inc., and Brookfield Property Partners are talking with other landlords about keeping as many of its 448 US stores in business as possible, Authentic CEO Jamie Salter said in an interview. Forever 21 is interviewing three CEO candidates and will name a new one soon, Salter said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FINANCE

NYC metro area
is losing bank branches

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Bank branches are shuttering at an ever-faster rate in the New York area while more consumers turn to mobile apps for their financial business. The number of branches fell 6.8 percent in the 12 months through June, compared with 2.2 percent for the same period a year earlier, research by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. shows. It was the highest rate among all the major US markets in the study, which used data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The area includes New York City, its suburbs, and parts of New Jersey.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

FISHING

Maine shutting down scalloping areas for the season

Maine fishing regulators are shutting down some of the most important scallop fishing areas in the state for the season. Cobscook, Whiting, and Dennys bays are all shut down, the Maine Department of Marine Resources said. Cobscook Bay is home to the most fertile scallop fishing grounds in Maine, which is home to a winter scallop harvesting industry. Maine regulators typically shut down scallop fishing areas before the season is over to prevent overfishing and preserve the shellfish for future seasons. Maine scallops took a dip in volume and value in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available. However, the fishery is in much better shape than it was a decade ago.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS