News Archive

Snap’s shares pare losses in brisk trading as lockup ends

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shares of Snap Inc (SNAP.N), owner of the Snapchat messaging app, clawed back much of its earlier losses in volatile trading on Monday, after dropping to a new low as the expiration of a share lockup allowed early investors to sell.

The stock was last down 0.1 percent at $13.79 after falling as much as 5.1 percent and hitting a low of $13.10, putting it well below its early March initial public offering price of $17.

Trading volume was 1.5 times the company’s 10-day moving average with more than 26 million shares having changed hands just two hours into the regular trading session.

Starting on Monday and extending into August, early investors, employees and other insiders can sell shares for the first time since its $3.4 billion IPO, the third-largest for a U.S. technology company.

Shares turned positive briefly and the high for the day was $13.84, a few cents higher than Friday’s close. It had fallen 53 percent below its March 3 intraday peak as investors bid it lower amid concerns over its growth prospects.

“Apparently enough sell-off has taken place in the last couple of months. Some on the retail side must be viewing this as a opportunity to get in at a low price,” said Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi.

“Some of the early investors … may have some patience to wait and see if this company becomes profitable and see if they can reaccelerate growth on the user side” said the analyst who rates the stock neutral and sees $16 per share as a fair valuation.

Snap could also be seeing some short covering, according to Mogharabi. Almost 6 percent of its shares were sold short as of July 14 according to the latest Reuters data.

Many investors likely positioned themselves early ahead of the expiration, according to Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White, who recommends that investors buy the stock has a 12-month price target of $30 for the stock.

“If you can look out one year, this is a great buying opportunity at this level. The company is a big disrupter and an enormous mobile advertising platform,” said

As of Monday, investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners will be able to sell up to 400 million shares, with employees owning another 782 million allowed to start selling on Aug. 14, four days after Snap reports results, JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth said in a recent note.

Share prices can move dramatically when lockups expire. For example, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) shares fell 18 percent on the day of a key lockup expiry in May 2014, and in November 2012, Facebook Inc (FB.O) jumped 13 percent on its lockup expiry.

Snap did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Megan Davies and Lance Tupper; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Ford CEO Hackett reviewing future products, plants, countries: sources

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Jim Hackett is reviewing the automaker’s operations in India and other markets, as well as Ford’s future product programs including plans to build a self-driving commercial vehicle in 2021, according to company officials and other sources familiar with that review.

Hackett, who took over as CEO in May, has told investors he is working on a 100-day review of Ford’s operations but has so far provided few details of the process, except to indicate that it is looking at the automakers’ luxury vehicle strategy, the future of its small vehicles and investments in emerging markets.

Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told Reuters in an interview that the review covers a range of issues, including Ford’s strategy for India.

“We have a lot of work to do (as) we address issues of how to fix India,” Shanks said. “Everything is on the table.”

General Motors Co in May said it would stop selling cars in India but continue to produce vehicles there for export. Shanks said no decisions have been made and noted that Ford has a larger business in India than GM did. “We are very cognizant that will be the third-largest market in the world,” he said.

“Some big decisions will be made,” Shanks said, but he cautioned Ford may not disclose all those decisions at the end of the 100-day review.

Hackett is addressing challenges that have contributed to a nearly 8 percent decline in Ford’s share price this year.

The review of the Lincoln luxury brand includes whether current plans will meet former CEO Mark Fields’ ambitious targets for growth and revenue, people familiar with the process said.

Ford has set a target of putting a self-driving shuttle into commercial ride-sharing fleets by 2021. Hackett is reviewing the investment and timing for that project, the sources said.

Hackett also assessing whether to reduce and consolidate production of models such as the Fiesta subcompact and two midsized sedans that are built in multiple locations around the world, but are experiencing slowing demand.

One proposal would shift production of the next-generation Mondeo mid-sized sedan from Europe to Mexico, where it would share an assembly line with its sibling, the Ford Fusion, avoiding the cost of retooling two plants.

Shortly after he took charge, Hackett approved a proposal to shift production of the next-generation Focus for North America from Mexico to China, saving the company an estimated $500 million by consolidating two factories into one.

Hackett also is said to be questioning a plan to build at least half a dozen future models, including replacements for the Ford Mustang and Explorer and Lincoln Continental, on a new flexible platform that is designed to accommodate both front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

Reporting by Paul Lienert and Joseph White in Detroit; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Charter Communications says ‘no interest’ in buying Sprint

(Reuters) – U.S. cable operator Charter Communications Inc said on Sunday it was not interested in acquiring U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp, leaving the latter’s majority owner, SoftBank Group Corp, pondering how to orchestrate a merger.

A merger of Charter and Sprint would create a telecommunications powerhouse, providing a one-stop shop for customers looking for internet and mobile phone services, giving the combined company a stronger footing in creating the infrastructure required for so-called 5G wireless technology.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is considering making an acquisition offer for Charter, which has a market capitalization of $101 billion and another $60 billion in debt, as early as this week, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday, in what would be by far the Japanese telecommunications conglomerate’s biggest ever deal.

SoftBank remains interested in merging Sprint with T-Mobile US Inc, another U.S. wireless carrier controlled by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, with which Sprint held deal negotiations earlier this year, the source added.

The source asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. SoftBank declined to comment.

“We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” a Charter spokesman said in an emailed statement on Sunday. He declined to comment on whether Charter would entertain a bid from SoftBank and at what price.

Sprint and T-Mobile could not be immediately reached for comment.

SoftBank’s potential bid for Charter would come after two months of negotiations with both Charter and cable peer Comcast Corp over Sprint potentially serving as their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), allowing them to use its network to offer wireless services.

SoftBank’s interest in Charter also shows it is looking for alternatives to strengthen its negotiating hand in Sprint’s negotiations with T-Mobile, analysts said.

“This could be a way to gain leverage in a T-Mobile deal,” Macquarie analyst Amy Yong said of Son’s pursuit of Charter on Sunday.

To be sure, a bid for Charter by SoftBank, which has a market capitalization of 9.9 trillion yen ($90.3 billion), would be a stretch for its finances, given that it would likely be without the deployment of the $100 billion technology-focused investment fund called Vision Fund it raised this year.

Sprint’s market capitalization is just $32.8 billion, and it has a similar amount in debt. A bid for Charter that would give SoftBank majority control in a deal would require raising tens of billions of dollars in new debt and could push SoftBank to leverage some of its other assets, including its 29.5 percent stake in Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and its 43 percent stake in Yahoo Japan Corp.

SoftBank shares were trading down 2.7 percent at 8,920 yen on Monday morning in Tokyo.

Another hurdle for SoftBank would be the price expectations of Charter’s largest shareholder, John Malone’s Liberty Broadband Corp. Charter’s proxy statement to its shareholders in March showed that CEO Tom Rutledge has compensation incentives to take Charter’s share price to more than $564. Charter shares ended trading on Friday at $370.26.

What is more, were Charter to agree to a merger with Sprint, it would need the blessing of Comcast. Charter and Comcast announced an agreement in May that bars either company from entering into a material transaction in wireless for a year without the other’s consent.

In Need of a Deal

Verizon Communications Inc, the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, also expressed interest in a takeover of Charter earlier this year, sources have said. Verizon, which has a healthier network than Sprint, has MVNO agreements in place with both Charter and Comcast, which are rolling out wireless plans for their customers using the Verizon partnership.

Three years ago, SoftBank abandoned talks to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint amid opposition from U.S. antitrust regulators. That deal would have put SoftBank in control of the merged company, with Deutsche Telekom becoming a minority shareholder.

T-Mobile was worth around $30 billion at the time, but its market value has since risen to more than $50 billion as it overtook Sprint as the No. 3 wireless carrier by subscribers.

While Sprint’s customer base has also grown under CEO Marcelo Claure and financials have improved, the growth was primarily driven by heavy price discounts. Despite new investment, the company’s network is still viewed by many consumers as weaker than its rivals.

Unless Sprint can clinch a merger with a peer, these investment requirements are set to become more pressing. Carriers will need to spend billions of dollars to upgrade to 5G networks that promise to be 10 times to 100 times faster than current speeds.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Christopher Cushing

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Asia stocks start data-heavy week with gains; dollar creeps up

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian shares turned positive on Monday, shrugging off a new North Korean missile test as investors turned their attention to a raft of global economic data and earnings this week, while the dollar crept up but remained capped by U.S. political concerns.

European stocks look set for a muted start, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 to all open little changed.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed early losses to rise 0.25 percent.

Chinese shares rose, buoyed by several leading companies’ forecasts for strong mid-year earnings. The blue-chip index and the Shanghai Composite both rose 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1 percent to a two-year high.

That strong performance came despite a slip in official Chinese manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indices in July, although they stayed above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

Investors remained wary after North Korea conducted a missile test late on Friday that it said proved its ability to strike the U.S. mainland. The U.S. responded by flying two bombers over the Korean peninsula on Sunday.

But early jitters dissipated somewhat, with the Korean won reversing losses. The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 1,120.7 won, after jumping almost 0.7 percent on Friday. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.2 percent.

Australian shares advanced 0.7 percent.

The perceived safe-haven Japanese yen strengthened, with the dollar shedding 0.15 percent to 110.545 yen, touching its weakest since mid-June.

“The geopolitical overhang will likely keep topside moves in check early in the week as the disorganized U.S. and China policy towards North Korea is not helping matters,” Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, wrote in a note.

Japan’s Nikkei was flat, with the firm yen offsetting news the country’s industrial output rebounded in June from a decline in May.

On Wall Street on Friday, the SP and Nasdaq indexes fell after earnings from companies including Amazon, Exxon Mobil and Starbucks disappointed.

But the Dow closed higher and set an intraday record, lifted by Chevron’s strong earnings.

U.S. corporate results overall have come in better than expected for the second quarter. More than halfway through reporting season, SP 500 companies are on track to have increased earnings by 10.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

SP E-mini futures were down almost 0.1 percent on Monday.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, edged up 0.15 percent to 93.396, after Friday’s 0.6 percent decline.

Markets are awaiting speeches by Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester and San Francisco Fed President John Williams on Tuesday, for further insight into whether the central bank has turned more dovish in light of recently muted inflation.

“It is easy for uncertainty to increase about the Fed’s ability to raise rates next year if inflation remains low. We could see the dollar head below 110.00 yen under such circumstances,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

Investors will also be keeping a close eye on data including euro zone core inflation for July on Monday; the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rate decision, at which it is expected to stay on hold, and U.S. manufacturing conditions, due Tuesday; the Reserve Bank of India’s meeting on Wednesday, at which it is expected to cut rates; and Bank of England on Thursday, where it is likely to leave rates unchanged.

A raft of private manufacturing surveys will also be released on Tuesday.

The euro retreated slightly to $1.17385, pulling back from Friday’s 0.6 percent gain.

In commodities, oil prices rose for their sixth straight session on tightening U.S. supplies and the threat of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s oil sector.

U.S. crude futures climbed 0.3 percent to $49.87 a barrel, after earlier hitting $50.06, their first foray above $50 in two months.

Brent crude advanced 0.5 percent to $52.78, adding to Friday’s 2 percent surge.

Gold was little changed at $1,268.26 an ounce, after earlier climbing to its highest since June 14.

Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Eric Meijer and Jacqueline Wong

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HSBC says first half profit rose 5 percent, announces up to $2 billion share buyback

HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC Holdings PLC on Monday said profit rose 5 percent in the first half of the year, beating analyst estimates, and announced its third share buyback in the past year on the back of a growing capital base.

Pretax profit reached $10.2 billion in the six months through June, from $9.7 billion in the same period a year earlier, HSBC said in a statement. The result compared with the $9.5 billion average estimate of analysts polled by the bank.

HSBC also announced an up to $2 billion share buyback, as it uses excess capital to offset the dilutive effect of shares paid out as dividends. It completed a previously announced $1 billion buyback in April.

Europe’s biggest bank said it expected to commence the latest buyback shortly for completion in the second half of 2017.

The announcement takes the total of HSBC share buybacks since the second half of 2016 to $5.5 billion.

HSBC, like many global banks, spent the years up to the 2008 financial crisis building its empire. Recent years have seen it cut jobs and sell assets worldwide to shrink the group back to profitability and maintain dividend payouts in an era of stricter banking regulations.

“In the past 12 months we have paid more in dividends than any other European or American bank and returned $3.5 billion to shareholders through share buybacks,” Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver said in HSBC’s earnings statement.

“We have done this while strengthening one of the most resilient capital ratios in the industry.”

The bank said its common equity tier 1 ratio – a measure of financial strength – was 14.7 percent at the end of June, from 14.3 percent three months prior, and 12.1 percent in the year-earlier period.

The ratio is set to increase further as the bank repatriates about $8 billion stuck at its U.S. subsidiary, following approval last year from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

HSBC has kept its dividend payout ratio higher than many peers in recent years, including last year when a slowdown in banks’ earnings growth prompted rivals such as Standard Chartered PLC to withhold payments.

HSBC’s dividends totaled $10.1 billion in 2016, $10 billion in 2015 and $9.6 billion in 2014.

The bank, which makes over half of its profit in Asia – the bulk in Hong Kong and China – said pre-tax profit in Asia rose 7 percent in the first half to $7.6 billion, mainly helped by stronger wealth management and insurance revenue in Hong Kong.

“We continue to shift the group’s business mix towards Asia, building on our improved financial performance and strong customer acquisition in the region since June 2015,” Gulliver said.

HSBC won approval last month in China to establish an investment banking joint venture with a state-backed fund, ending a 20-month wait, making it the first such joint-venture in China to be majority-owned by a foreign bank.

The venture will allow HSBC to expand in the world’s second-largest economy, and is central to its ambition to increase profit from the fast-growing Pearl River Delta region.

The new business was likely to launch in December, the bank said.

Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Lawrence White; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Stephen Coates

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Oil hits two-month high on tighter U.S. market, Venezuela sanctions risk

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices hit a two-month high on Monday, lifted by a tightening U.S. crude market and the threat of sanctions against OPEC-member Venezuela.

Brent crude futures were at $52.82 per barrel at 0443 GMT on Monday, up 30 cents or 0.6 percent. Prices hit $52.90 per barrel earlier in the day, their highest since May 25.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $49.87 per barrel, and the entire WTI curve is close to moving back over $50 per barrel, with only September and October a notch below that level.

The price rises put both crude benchmarks on track for a sixth consecutive session of gains.

Prices have risen around 10 percent since the last meeting of leading members by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers, including Russia, when the group discussed potential measures to further tighten oil markets.

“U.S. inventories are showing massive drawdowns, Saudi Arabia seems intent on playing its role as the world’s swing producer (and) impending sanctions on Venezuela by the U.S. will almost certainly be oil price-supportive,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.

The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s vital oil sector in response to Sunday’s election of a constitutional super-body that Washington has denounced as a “sham” vote.

But traders said the biggest price supporter was currently a tightening U.S. oil market.

“Strong increases in the price of oil … (were) fueled in large part by the substantial drawdowns in U.S. inventories over the past several weeks,” said William O’Loughlin, analyst at Rivkin Securities.

“A continuation of this trend could indicate the oil market is rebalancing thanks to the production cuts by OPEC and Russia,” he added.

After rising by more than 10 percent since mid-2016, U.S. oil production dipped by 0.2 percent to 9.41 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week to July 21.

U.S. crude inventories have fallen by 10 percent from their March peaks to 483.4 million barrels.

Drilling for new U.S. production is also slowing, with just 10 rigs added in July, the fewest since May 2016.

The tighter market was also visible in the price curve, which shows backwardation in the front end.

Backwardation is a market condition in which prices for immediate delivery of a product are higher than those later on.

Brent prices for delivery in September are currently around 35 cents above those for October.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Richard Pullin

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Exclusive: MSCI warns Chinese companies about suspending trading of shares

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Barely a month after approving the inclusion of Chinese shares in its benchmark emerging market index, MSCI is warning that companies in China that suspend trading in their shares for too long risk being dropped.

MSCI’s head of research for Asia Pacific, Chin Ping Chia, said China was an outlier in global markets with too many suspensions in stock trading. He said the U.S. index provider was closely monitoring the 222 China-listed A-shares that will be added to its Emerging Markets Index next year.

“If we find a company suspends for a long time, over 50 days, we will remove it from the index, and we will not bring it back to the index again for at least another 12 months,” Chia said.

The 12-month removal rule would be limited to Chinese companies. Companies from other markets who are removed from the index due to a long suspension of trading would be able to start a review process for reinclusion once they resumed trading.

MSCI’s comments come as the number of suspended stocks in China is at its highest level in a year after volatility in smaller companies prompted many to halt share trading in order to avert a crash in prices.

Suspensions have also increased among companies with larger capitalizations as Beijing steps up consolidation of state-owned enterprises.

An average of 265, or one in every 13, listed companies in China suspended trade in July, according to data provided last Wednesday by the fund consultancy Z-Ben Advisors. The consultancy said the number had risen every month this year and was now up 30 percent from an average of 202 in January.

Last year, MSCI cited arbitrary and long suspensions as a reason for vetoing the inclusion of shares listed on the mainland in its benchmark indices.

However, MSCI said in June this year that it would add 222 A-shares to the index in May and August next year, which could trigger billions of dollars of passive investment inflows into China.

“This suspension issue in China is highly unique, both in the number and frequency,” Chia said. He said that failure to address the issue could discourage MSCI from adding China stocks to its indexes in the future.

Investors have long worried about a tendency by Chinese companies to suspend trading in their shares. At the height of the 2015 stock market crash, over half of China’s 3,000-plus listed companies halted trading.

In May last year, both the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges tightened rules on share suspensions by listed companies, requiring them to disclose more details and to shorten the length of suspensions. These measures, however, have had limited effect.

A spokesman for the China Securities Regulatory Commission said at a press conference on Friday that Chinese regulators would work to improve suspension rules.


Essence Securities, a Chinese brokerage, estimates that 8 percent of Chinese stocks could not be traded in May due to suspensions, compared with less than 1 percent in Hong Kong and roughly 4 percent on the Nasdaq.

MSCI’s Chia said that suspensions last for a day at most in most global markets, whereas in China, suspensions can go on for months.

In an extreme case, trading in shares of Xinjiang Yilu Wanyuan Industrial Investment, a loss-making ceramic products maker, has been suspended for about 20 months.

“The issue is that in a freely accessible market, investors want to be able to get in and get out. If a market falls, they still want to be able to get out,” said Chia. “But if you suspend, investors cannot get out, that will be a problem.”

Seasoned foreign investors in China’s A-share market concur.

“You can tolerate losing money, but you cannot tolerate not being able to trade,” said Anthony Cragg, a senior portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management who manages $2.2 billion in several funds – including one dedicated to China.

Exploiting Loopholes

The rules announced last year specify that in the case of a private share placement, suspension time on the Shanghai stock exchange cannot exceed one month. The Shenzhen stock exchange stipulates a maximum of six months for a trading suspension in the event of a company restructuring.

Yet, plenty of companies, particularly smaller companies, are able to exploit these relatively loose suspension rules.

This month, when China’s start-up board ChiNext tumbled to 2-1/2-year lows, companies listed there – including H and R Century Union Corp, Xinlong Holding Group Co and Galaxy Biomedical Investment – quickly suspended share trading, citing various reasons, ranging from margin calls to restructuring, or waiting for the release of price-sensitive information.

Xu Caiyuan, a prominent activist investor, said many Chinese companies were “playing dead” to avoid price falls, so that major shareholders facing margin calls could maintain control by “trapping small investors.”

Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Philip McClellan

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Audi targets 10 billion euros in cost cuts to fund electric-car push: sources

BERLIN (Reuters) – Audi (NSUG.DE) aims to cut costs by 10 billion euros ($12 billion) by 2022 to help fund a shift to electric cars as it seeks to move on after the emissions scandal, sources close to the carmaker said.

Audi, Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) main profit driver, plans to bring five new all-electric models to market in coming years, starting with the e-tron sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to be assembled from 2018 in Brussels.

Despite run-up costs for its electric-car programme, the luxury automaker wants to keep its operating profit margin at 8 percent a year at least, two sources close to Audi said. Its profit margin in the first half of this year was 8.9 percent.

The bulk of the 10 billion cost savings would come from cutting research and development costs, the sources said.

A spokesman at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, declined comment. German business daily Handelsblatt reported the cost-savings target and profitability plans earlier on Sunday.

Audi also aims to free up funds for investments in zero-emission technology by developing a new production platform with Porsche, allowing both VW premium brands to save money by sharing components and modules.

Audi is grappling with car recalls, prosecutor investigations and persistent criticism from unions and managers over the diesel emissions scandal and its strategy post-dieselgate.

Sources told Reuters on Friday that four of the brand’s seven top executives are earmarked for dismissal in the near future. On Sunday, sources said the dismissals were discussed by supervisory board members last Thursday but a formal decision has yet to be taken.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Susan Fenton

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Outside adviser to Trump calls for firing of CFPB head Cordray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An outside adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump called on Sunday for the firing of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager who still speaks regularly to the president, criticized a CFPB rule that would make it easier for consumers to sue financial companies. Currently, many consumers are required to settle disputes related to credit cards and other banking products through mandatory arbitration.

“It’s my recommendation to the president of the United States to fire Richard Cordray,” Lewandowski told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The CFPB is the brainchild of Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. Created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the bureau is charged with protecting consumers from predatory lending practices that were commonplace during the financial crisis.

Under current law, the president can only fire Cordray for cause. The legal burden to show cause is high, and Cordray’s term does not expire until July 2018.

Cordray is widely expected to run for governor in Ohio, though he has not announced any plans to do so.

Lewandowski said Cordray’s potential political aspirations were part of the reason he should be ousted, saying “if he wants to run for governor of Ohio, go run for governor of Ohio, but don’t do so while you’re sitting in a federal office right now.”

A CFPB spokesman did not have any immediate comment in response.

Republicans fought the creation of the CFPB and have long complained the agency wields too much power without enough accountability to the president or Congress. They have accused it over imposing overly burdensome regulations that they say may unduly harm consumers.

A U.S. appeals court is weighing a case involving whether the president should be allowed to fire Cordray at will, and not just for cause. If Trump were to remove Cordray prior to the court’s ruling, it would likely escalate the ongoing legal battle.

When asked if his comments about the CFPB were driven by business interests he represents, Lewandowski said he had no clients with such interests before the agency.

However, Lewandowski previously worked for Avenue Strategies, which is registered to lobby for Ohio-based payday lender Community Choice Financial.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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