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Asset managers move to block Lone Star-Novo Banco deal

More bad news for Wells Fargo & Co.: It will have to rehire a manager fired in 2010 and pay him roughly $5.4 million. The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration decided the employee's termination was partly due to his whistleblowing; Wells disagrees and wants a full hearing. The decision comes on the heels of a Huffington Post article on another whistleblower suit. Robert Trojan, former Commercial Finance Association CEO, claims he was fired by CFA President and Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Andrea Petro when he raised concerns about the group's auditor not being fully independent.

And Seattle, which will not renew its contract with Wells over its Dakota Access Pipeline ties, is now targeting Keystone XL Pipeline backers. The Seattle Times reports the City Council unanimously passed a resolution to avoid contracts with those providing financial services to TransCanada — including Wells, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, National Bank of Canada and Desjardins Group.

Meanwhile, in regional and community banking news:

NBT Bank NA of New York has acquired Maine-based Downeast Pension Services Inc.

Flagstar Bancorp Inc. will buy certain assets of retail mortgage originator Opes Advisors Inc., with the latter retaining its brand and functioning as a separate Flagstar division. Piper Jaffray's Kevin Barker writes that the Michigan-based bank's "increasing reliance on mortgage banking vs. commercial banking is likely to restrain [its] earnings multiple given the inherent volatility associated with mortgage banking."

California First National Bancorp expects its leverage loan portfolio to be more than halved in the next 12 months, following an OCC directive to substantially reduce its concentration.

Credit union network and fintech firm CO-OP Financial Services has fully acquired TMG, buying the remaining shares from the Iowa Credit Union League for $100 million.

And CardConnect Corp. bought MertzCo Inc., which markets and resells credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards.

The Lone Star-Novo Banco SA deal just hit a new roadblock: 14 asset managers are saying the rules of the sale process "are discriminatory and breach Portuguese and EU law." BlackRock Inc., Pacific Investment Management Co. LLC, Elliott Management Corp. are among those seeking an injunction to stop the sale, the Financial Times reports. BlackRock and PIMCO had been excluded after they legally challenged the resolution of Banco Espírito Santo SA.

On Capitol Hill, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing today on "Examining the Federal Reserve's mandate and governance structure."

The New York Times asks how ready for tax reform the government may be, with a U.S. Treasury Department that has only Steven Mnuchin confirmed. President Donald Trump has yet to appoint anyone as assistant secretary of tax policy, and that is just one of the 21 positions still without nominees.

And 2016 was not smooth sailing for digital lenders, and loan volumes were down year over year in the fourth quarter. But S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that 13 major U.S. digital lenders, including LendingClub Corp. and On Deck Capital Inc., grew full-year 2016 loan originations 15% to $28.39 billion.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Australians with Credit Suisse accounts at risk; Visa eyes Philippine expansion

Europe: Banco Popular CEO leaving; Veneto Banca's big loss; Euronext-ICE deal

Middle East & Africa: South Africa downgraded; European, African banks eye Moza Banco

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.91% to 18,810.25.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.43% to 7,314.34, and the Euronext 100 lifted 0.03% to 980.99.

On the macro front

The international trade report, the Gallup U.S. ECI, the Redbook and the factory orders report are due out today.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.