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Turning a Green Eye To the US Market

Germany’s leading energy group, Innogy IGY.TG, has its eye on the US market to expand its renewable energy and electric car charging business. As Chief Executive Peter Terium said,

“We want to invest around 6.5 billion euros between 2016 and 2018.” This will include grid networks and infrastructure. It will also include wind farms in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands and an electric car charging station set to be in the US>

As Terium said, “Three weeks ago we persuaded Californian authorities to accept the German norms and standards for electric car charging stations.”

Decade-Long Growth of AmTrust

AmTrust Financial Services has successfully served the property and casualty insurance industry since its establishment in 1998, and achieved record growth over the last 10 years. According to President and CEO Barry Zyskind, AmTrust is using “proprietary technology and extensive database of loss history to help appropriately price and structure policies, maintain lower levels of loss, enhance our ability to accurately predict losses and maintain lower claims costs than the industry as a whole.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Between 2005 and 2015, AmTrust increased its commercial lines market share in the U.S. from 0.08% to 1.92%, according to A.M. Best data. This growth has positioned AmTrust as the 11th largest commercial lines writer in the U.S., up from the 128th position in 2005. AmTrust has grown organically and through 40 acquisitions.

Zyskind pointed out that AmTrust realized early on it would be able to differentiate through technology. He explained that, “every application we use from underwriting to claims management, is built internally to maximize our productivity and data mining capabilities. When we acquire a business, we quickly integrate it on our technology platforms. Our digital strategy has absolutely set us apart in a highly competitive industry.”

The firm’s first product offering was warranty program insurance, which continues to have substantial growth.  Barry Zyskind added that “our automotive and powersports vehicle service contract division is a world leader, while our retail and consumer products extended service plan division ranks among the world’s top three.”

Cainiao Network Planning to Raise More Funds

Cainiao Network is planning to have another round of fundraising, but it hopes that the money it has raised up until this point will be enough for the next year to 18 months. As the logistics arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Cainiao managed to hook investors such as Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and GIC Pte Ltd, Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and China’s Primavera Capital. The value of this round was nearly $7.5 billion. As Chief Executive Judy Tong told a news conference, “In the future we will definitely raise money again. Cainiao is a very young company. It requires a lot of investment.”

 

 

 

EpiPen Controversy Continues to Heat Up

The EpiPen controversy does not look like it’s going to die anytime soon. The most recent development is that 20 US senators have voiced their worries to the chief executive of Mylan NV about the exorbitant cost. They have called it “exorbitantly expensive.”

As the senators wrote, “Insurance companies, the government and employers still bear the burden of these excessive prices. In turn, those costs are eventually passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.”

Mylan has said they plan to launch the first generic version of the EpiPen for $300, which is half of the price of the branded product. This is their second step to try to counter the backlash they’ve received for their pricing.

In response to the recent letter, Mylan spokeswoman Lauren Kashtan said “We have acknowledged receipt of letters from congressional offices and intend to respond to them.”

Mylan has defended their high price, explaining that they spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to improve the produce since they acquired it in 2007.

Signatories on the letter include Senator Patrick Leahy, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown and others.

Improving the Economy and Environment

landfillsIn conjunction with Mas Energy, Republic Services has developed a renewable energy project, serving Metro Atlanta, specifically, Buford, Griffin and Winder. Focusing on landfill gas-to energy facilities at three area landfills, this has a 24.1 megawatts of electricity generating capacity.  In other words, 15,665 households can receive all the renewable energy it needs.

Meanwhile, a report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that for every wind energy based megawatt-hour causing zero-emission (which is typically the amount produced by a turbine in just over an hour) the result is a gain of $75 in human health and environmental air pollution benefits.  This translates into more than treble the cost of the $23/MWh federal production tax credit.

Of the company’s new renewable energy project,  Area President of Republic Services Jamey Amick, said that Republic Services feels that it needs to “lead by example in everything [it does]. The modern landfill presents new opportunity to harness energy from yesterday’s waste and convert it to meet tomorrow’s energy needs. We are proud to partner once again with Mas Energy to generate a renewable energy source that makes a meaningful and lasting environmental difference in the state of Georgia.”

Given that Republic Services seeks to “make [the] world and our planet better,” this project is in line with its overall mission to “provide reliable and responsible recycling and waste disposal services.”

More Job Opportunities with Porsche

Porsche is raising the number of jobs that it will be offering, as they set their sites on the electric car market. They are about to unroll their first all-electric sports car and there will be more than 1400 more jobs for these rolls. Over 1200 of the new jobs will at the Volkwagen-owned brand’s base in Zuffenhausen. Porsche is building a paint shop and also an assembly line for their battery-powered Mission E. They hope to have the new items built by the end of the decade.

Porsche will also be increasing their apprenticeships to 220 over the 150 they currently have.

 

 

 

Clintons Have Their Financial Ducks in a Row

Should anyone be worried – Chelsea Clinton will be just fine when her parents pass away. That’s the basic take-away from an article written by Kerri Anne Renzulli. In the article, Renzulli meticulously analyzes the care with which Hillary and Bill Clinton have put their financial lives in order, and shows it as quite an example to the rest of us. Politics aside – they certainly have their financial lives well organized.

As the article explains, the couple has investments valued at between $10 and $50.1 million, according to their disclosure forms. Their disclosures do not include the value of their homes or retirements accounts since they don’t have to be released. Herein lies the key to their estate planning. They have created a residence trust which means that the property’s value can’t be counted in their estate, or be taxed when they pass it to their heirs. As Michael Delgass, CEO of Sontag Advisory explained,

“When you create these trusts, the benefit you’re relying on is the appreciation down the road — you’re counting on it to grow into something much more valuable.”

The Clintons actually created two of these trusts in 2010. If the value of their Chappaqua, New York home continues to grow, the move could save them hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, according to estate planning and taxation expert Jonathan Blattmachr. Jonathan Blattmachr of Pioneer Wealth Management, who co-authored Bloomberg BNA’s tax management book on personal residence trusts explains the move.

The couple also owns another home in Washington DC that they haven’t placed in a property trust. Jonathan Blattmachr explains that they may have chosen not to do so because they don’t think that home will appreciate as much or because they intend to sell it.

The article continues to explain other areas of their lives where they have taken the financial steps to cover themselves and their heirs. The rest of us would do well to take notice and perhaps to use their example.

 

California Governor Brown Signs Gun Control Bills

pistol-1350484_960_720On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a collection of gun control bills that outlaw high-capacity ammunition magazines and that expand the definition of what assault weapons are prohibited. The Democrats in the legislature sought to rush through these measures before their summer break.

California is already a state with some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. As Brown said during the signing,

“My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

The bills that Brown signed ban bullet buttons, which allow the user to quickly change the magazine of a military-style weapon. The bills also require background checks for those purchasing ammunition.

Brown also used this time to veto some bills including one that would have meant that co-workers, educators and mental health professionals can’t request a restraining order that would forbid people who are deemed dangerous from owning guns.

Some, of course, are furious with the steps that Brown has taken, and are calling the bills “Gunpocalypse.” As Craig DeLuz, the spokesman for the Firearms Policy Coalition said,

“The California Legislature showed their true faces today. They abused the legislative process to enact their depraved anti-civil rights agenda.”

Enhancing Client Relationships

serviceGetting a client to choose your company/business is just the initial part of a successful business practice. The second – much longer part – is customer satisfaction.

Scott Roberts in a recent article in The Indiana Lawyer, explained that “focusing on lasting relationships may not always be the most profitable in the short term, but it pays off.”  Jim Donovan, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and University of Virginia School of Law Adjunct Professor, noted however that one does not need an innate knowledge of how to do this per se; maintaining a successful relationship with a client is a skill that can be learned.

Donovan then goes on to list seven “things all lawyers need to know about covering clients.” These include: really listening to the client (which entails asking open-ended questions, as is the case in active listening), putting the clients first (which means being “prepared to give the client advice that is not in your interest.”).  Also “you need to work really hard to convince the client that you’re there for them all the time. If you’re not there for the client on the thing that they’ve hired you to do, someone else is going to be there, and be willing to pick up the phone at 2 or 3 in the morning if you’re not.” Ice Miller Partner Angela Krahulik echoed this sentiment in Roberts’ article when she said: “The things I have done have run the gamut from personal injury to premises liability.”

Another essential element is to become your clients’ “strategic adviser” (which means “advis[ing] the client on matters outside of the matter they’ve been hired to work on.” Roberts emphasized this point too when he spoke of the success of the 80-year legal partnership relationship between Ice Miller LLP and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As Krahulik said: “I can remember only two arguments I’ve actually had for that client — one over ownership of a car at the museum and one over a complicated contract issue. It’s knowing the business and where the transition or change is and being helpful in that process.”

So once a client has signed up for your services, immediately start focusing on how to maintain a satisfactory relationship that can last many decades.

Uber and Daimler Meet Up

Yesterday, Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche and Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick met on stage at Axel Springer NOAH. It was a two-day conference in Berlin that included venture capitalists and technology companies.

As Uber’s Kalanick said, “Cars are not going away soon and companies like Uber are not going to be making them.”

Zetsche said, “We are competitors, of course. There might be many areas where we are competitors in the future,” but then he added that they are also friends.

Uber’s private market valuation has recently soared for a number of reasons. They just announced a $3.5 billion investment by a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund and they have partnered with automaker Toyota Motor Corp.

When asked if the two would like to create a partnership with Daimler considering a stake in Uber, they explained that this is not in the plans.

Uber just entered its 467th city in Accra, Ghana. When asked about profitability and going public, Kalanick said, “We are going to IPO as late as possible.”

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