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Outgoing Merck CEO Ken Frazier. Photo: Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Merck’s Ken Frazier, one of just four Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, will retire on June 30.

Why it matters: His departure leaves just three Black people atop America’s 500 largest companies (assuming no other Black chiefs are named by then).

Details: Robert Davis, the company’s CFO and a white man, will take over as head of the pharmaceutical company.

  • Frazier has been at the helm of Merck since 2011 and with the company since 1992. He’ll stay on as executive chairman for an undetermined period of time.

Flashback: Frazier was the first to quit former President Trump’s CEO advisory councils, following Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017.

The bottom line: When Frazier departs, the number of Black Fortune 500 CEOs will shrink to Rosalind Brewer, who takes over as Walgreens' top executive next month, Marvin Ellison (Lowe’s) and René Jones (M&T Bank).

  • TIAA’s Roger Ferguson will step down next month.

Go deeper

Fortune 500 list has counted 15 Black CEOs since first publishing in 1955

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In March, Rosalind "Roz" Brewer will step in as Walgreens CEO, becoming the fourth Black Fortune 500 chief executive, and second-ever Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 firm.

The big picture: In the history of the Fortune 500, there have been 1,800 different CEOs. Only 15 of them have been Black, reports Fortune's Phil Wahba. Another four have held interim positions.

Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

2 hours ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran, and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January, and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arm's length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.