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CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch is the most powerful woman in American business

October 4, 2021, 10:14 AM UTC

Good morning.

Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American business is out this morning, and at the top of the list is—drumroll, please—is CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch. 

That’s justified not only by the enormous size of the company she runs—the merger with Aetna catapulted it to No. 4 on the Fortune 500, just after Walmart, Amazon and Apple—but also by the audacity of her vision for transforming the company. As Fortune’s Shawn Tully writes here, the pandemic has helped accelerate Lynch’s plan of making CVS the front door for the U.S. health system. She plans to remodel hundreds of the company’s stores into outlets devoted primarily to primary care—super clinics able to provide a wide variety of services, ranging from urgent care to mental health counseling.

“One of the things the pandemic taught us is how quickly we can move to serve customer needs,” Lynch told Tully.  “I don’t think we can ever go too fast.”

Lynch will be at the Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., next week, as will many of the other women on the list. You can read the full list here. Fortune has been doing the list since 1998, and the collective power of the group is clearly on the rise—with CEOs of Citi, Accenture, UPS, GM, Walgreens, Anthem, Fidelity and TIAA all ranking in this year’s top 10.  Still, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies with female CEOs is lower than 9%—indicating a long way to go.

Other Most Powerful Women stories that merit your attention this morning include: Beth Kowitt’s interview with new Walgreens Boots Alliance chief Roz Brewer and examination of the “COVID ceiling”; Maria Aspan on new Instacart CEO Fidji Simo; and a list of nine names we expect to see more of in the coming years.

More news below. By the way, I’ll be taking advantage of CVS’ clinical services tomorrow, when I go to get my COVID vaccine booster shot. 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Pandora Papers

There's been another huge leak of financial records. This one's called the Pandora Papers and it exposes the offshore assets of world leaders and politicians including Jordan's King Abdullah II and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. The leak also highlights how South Dakota and Nevada have "adopted financial secrecy laws that rival those of offshore jurisdictions," in the words of participating media organization The Washington Post. Fortune

Merck pill

Merck's Friday announcement, that its experimental COVID-19 pill halves the risk of hospitalization and death, has whacked the shares of vaccine makers from BioNTech and Moderna to Shanghai Fosun. Merck is very bullish on the antiviral, which is called molnupiravir—so much so that it’s stopped enrolling new participants in the drug's final trials and is pushing for emergency use authorization. Fortune

Facebook whistleblower

Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen has come forward as the whistleblower who provided the documents that underpinned recent reports over the platform's harmful nature. "Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety," she said. "I don't trust that they're willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous." Fortune

Evergrande suspension

Shares in China Evergrande Group and its property management unit have been suspended in Hong Kong "pending the release by the company of an announcement containing inside information about a major transaction." Speculation has it that Evergrande will offload its profitable property management business. Meanwhile, another debt was due today. Fortune

Correction: The Pandora Papers blurb was updated to correct the name of the leak.

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Green finance

The CEOs of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, BlackRock and Blackstone have all been invited to a green-finance summit in the U.K. this month, ahead of the pivotal COP26 U.N. climate summit in November. David Solomon, Jamie Dimon, Larry Fink and Stephen Schwarzman will get a royal reception. Financial Times

Ozy Media

Ozy Media has shut down after a New York Times piece cast doubt on its metrics and revealed how a top executive tried to impersonate a YouTube exec on a call with Goldman Sachs. The outfit had some world-class journalists and investors that included Laurene Powell Jobs and Axel Springer, but it seems the business's viability was a mirage. Fortune

PM Kishida

Fumio Kishida has, as expected, been elected as Japan's new (and hundredth) prime minister. The country's parliament elected him today, replacing previous Liberal Democratic Party chief Yoshihide Suga, who quit after a year in the job. CNBC

Debt ceiling

How bad would it be if the U.S. defaulted on its debt for the first time? S&P Global Ratings warns of a "severe and extraordinary" impact, while Fitch says it would downgrade the U.S. Both ratings agencies expect lawmakers to ultimately avert such an event. S&P: "These uncertainties reflect political maneuvering rather than underlying economic difficulties." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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