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Volkswagen AG launched a US subsidiary Tuesday designed to oversee $2 billion in investments to promote zero emission vehicles such as electric cars, a commitment the German auto giant made, in the wake of cheating on US emissions tests for several years. Dubbed Electrify America LLC, the unit represents an attempt to show a renewed commitment to clean vehicles by pouring money into electric-vehicles charging stations in the US. It comes about 16 months after US regulators first said Volkswagen installed so called defeat devices on diesel cars that misstated emissions levels. Volkswagen is not alone in creating a subsidiary devoted to future technology, Ford Motor Co created Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which focuses on ride hailing car sharing and other services that could replace vehicle ownership.  Nearly half of Volkswagen's investment will be spent in California, where Volkswagen's diesels were popular and where electric vehicles sell in the highest volumes

Volkswagen's funds committed as part of broader settlements with regulators, dealers and buyers will go toward installing chargers in about 15 metro areas. The company will develop a cross country network of more than 200 charging stations and test initiatives such as a no-emissions shuttle service and a car sharing program in California 

The company last year agreed to pay up to $17.5 billion to settle civil lawsuits, including $10 billion in June to compensate drivers of 475,000 diesel powered vehicles with 2 liter engines. It reached an agreement last month to pay $1.2 billion in settlement tied to about 80,000 of its larger diesel powered vehicles implicated int eh scandal Volkswagen agreed to pay another $4.3 billion n criminal and civial penalties to resolve a US Justice Department probe



In a new ranking of the world’s top banking brands, a China-based bank tops the list for the first time, while two more Chinese bank brands nabbed a spot in the top five and a total of four made the top 10 list.

The top ranked bank brand is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a state-owned Chinese bank with a brand value of $47.83 billion in 2016, a 32% improvement compared with 2015’s brand value. Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was the runner-up with a brand value of $41.62, a 6% year-over-year decline.A banking brand value report was released Wednesday by branding and strategic consulting firm Brand Finance.
Wells Fargo had been the leading banking brand for the previous four years, but the fake customer account scandal cost it the top ranking in 2016.

All four of China’s top-ranked banks are state-owned. Here’s a list of the top 10, together with their brand value, the year-over-year percentage change and the bank’s brand rating as assigned by Brand Finance.

ICBC: $47.83 billion brand value; up 32%; rating AAA
Wells Fargo: $41.62 billion; down 6%; rating AA+
China Construction Bank: $41.38 billion; up 17%; rating AAA-
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM): $33.74 billion; up 10%; rating AAA-
Bank of China: $31.25 billion; up 13%; rating AAA
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC): $30.27 billion; up 12%; rating AAA-
Agricultural Bank of China: $28.51 billion; down 12%; rating AA+
Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C): $27.67 billion, up 6%; rating AA+
HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE: HSBC): $20.69 billion; down 14%; rating AA+
Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN): $15.93 billion; up 2%; rating AA+

According to Brand Finance, the impressive values given to Chinese banks are the result of a number of attributes:
The first is scale; China’s vast population and the growing prosperity of its citizens create a huge market for its major banks. China’s economy and businesses across all sectors are growing rapidly, expanding both organically and through a strong demand for foreign acquisitions, creating opportunity for its lenders and financial service providers.
Foreign M&A activity has significantly accelerated in the last two years, hitting a record high in 2016 Banking 500 Executive Summary with such notable takeovers as ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta or Haier Group’s of GE’s home appliance division. …
China’s banks look set for further international expansion that should see a further strengthening of their positions …

In addition to the $2.6 billion damage caused to Wells Fargo’s brand value by the fake account scandal, Agricultural Bank of China’s New York City branch also got socked with a sexual harassment claim brought by the bank’s chief compliance officer that cost it nearly $4 billion in brand value. HSBC was caught up in a number of issues related to money laundering and fraud revealed in the Panama Papers that lasted into last year and cost the bank over $4 billion in brand value.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ordered a federal judge in Minneapolis to hold hearings to determine all customers were treated fairly in Target Corp.’s (NYSE: TGT) 2015 settlement of claims related to a massive data breach in 2013. Nearly 42 million customers had credit/debit card data stolen in the cybercrime and another 60 million had personal information stolen.Federal district Judge Paul Magnuson has been ordered to review the class certification he approved in the November 2015 settlement. The settlement required Target to establish a $10 million fund from which a customer can claim up to $10,000 in documented unreimbursed losses. Once all such claims have been paid, remaining funds will be divided equally among customers who suffered a loss but have no documentation. Customers with no financial loss get nothing.

Target customer Leif Olson appealed the settlement because it forces him to release Target from liability for any claims resulting from future illegal use of his data. Olson argued that customers in his position should be put in a sub-class and represented separately. It is that separation which Judge Magnuson has been ordered to review for conflicts of interest.In addition to the $10 million fund to reimburse customers, Target’s settlement with MasterCard has climbed to near $20 million to reimburse the credit card issue for fraudulent transactions and the cost of issuing new cards. That total could reach as high as $240 million, depending on the outcome of a class action lawsuit on behalf of banks and credit unions for reissuing cards to the 100 million customers affected by the Target breach.
Target’s stock traded up about 0.3% late Tuesday morning, at $63.63 in a 52-week range of $62.94 to $84.14. The stock’s 12-month consensus price target is $73.97.

The latest count from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) indicates that there have been 110 data breaches recorded this year through February 8, 2017, and that nearly 700,000 records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. This is the ITRC’s first report for the new year.

There were a record 1,093 data breaches reported in 2016, a jump of 40% compared with the 2015 total of 780 breaches. A total of 36.6 million records were exposed last year, well below the 169 million records exposed in 2015.A January ransomware attack against Emory Healthcare, Georgia’s largest health care provider, resulted in 200,000 patient records being withheld until the hospital paid a 0.2 Bitcoin (about $200, according to a Bitcoin price index) ransom. The attack was made on a misconfigured MongoDB database, and several other MongoDB users around the world were also attacked, although not by the thief who stole the Emory data.

The medical/health care sector led all sectors in the number of records compromised so far in 2017. It posted 38.2% (42) of all data breaches. The number of records exposed in these breaches totaled tops 600,000, or about 93.1% of the 2016 total.The business sector accounts for more than 12,000 exposed records in 46 incidents. That represents 41.8% of the incidents and 1.8% of the exposed records so far in 2017.The educational sector saw 16 data breaches in the first weeks of the year. The sector accounts for 14.5% of all breaches for the year and more than 10,000 exposed records, about 1.5% of the year’s total.The government/military sector has suffered six data breaches to date in 2017, representing about 3.6% of the total number of records exposed and 5.5% of the incidents. Over 24,000 records have been compromised in the government/military sector.The banking/credit/financial sector has reported no breaches so far this year. The sector accounted for 52 data breaches in 2016, involving about 72,000 records, some 4.8% of the total number of breaches and about 0.2% of the records exposed for the year.
Since beginning to track data breaches in 2005, ITRC had counted 7,010 breaches through February 8, 2017, involving more than 888 million records.