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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.”

Mocking Trump in Silicon Valley

It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley wouldn’t necessarily be on Donald Trump’s side. And that was proven, yet again, this week when Trump, in a Reuters interview, said that start-ups in technology that haven’t yet been profitable are part of a bubble in the tech industry. As Trump said, “I’m talking about companies that have never made any money, that have a bad concept and that are valued at billions of dollars, so here we go again.”

Certainly, tech watchers have been warning about this for quite a while – so Trump’s “news” wasn’t really news to them. Many took to Twitter to make fun of the presidential hopeful. As Marc Andreessen, a general partner at the prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, mockingly said, “FINALLY someone calls it out.”

As Trump said in the interview, “You have a stock market that is very strange. You look at some of these tech stocks that are so, so weak as a concept and a company, and they’re selling for so much money. And I would have said can that ever happen again? I think that could happen again.”

Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur and Stanford University fellow, told Reuters, “So far he has been saying dumb things but they seem to be getting dumber and dumber.

New Female Hires in Executive Roles

women-executiveThere have been some tremendous strides over the years in the move toward hiring women for top executive positions.  Gone are the days when being a woman was a disability in the rise to the top of the corporate ladder.  However, it seems that there is still a long way to go and some studies are actually attesting to quite the opposite trend, indicating that the growth of women in leadership roles is happening at a much slower rate.

Still on the positive side of things, we do see these new hires.  Natalie Ravitz – a former Chief of Staff at News Corp for Rupert Murdoch – was just appointed Senior VP of Communications at the NFL. Ravitz will be bringing “more political experience to the league office,” aiding the NFL in its PR challenges.

In addition, Erin Riley was recently hired by TBWA\Chiat\Day to be President of the firm’s LA office.  She comes from a prestigious role at Old Navy, where she was VP of Marketing and Brand Engagement, and, before that, VP of Global Marketing at Cole Haan.  Despite the fact that Riley therefore shows immense experience in the field and is thus extremely suited to the role, the firm itself has a goal of increasing the number of women in key roles by 20 percent before 2020.  As part of that endeavor, the Take the Lead project was released on International Women’s Day in March.  This project was a culmination of quotes from women which were read by over 100 male employees “in an effort to directly address the unique challenges female professionals face in the advertising industry.”

So there is movement – at least in some firms – toward an increased female presence in top roles in business.  There is still much work to be done, since just last year, CNNMoney analysis reported that “only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500 are held by women.”  From 500 top US companies, only 24 are led by women.  Let’s just hope therefore, that Ravitz and Riley became the exception, not the rule.

Massive Merger Brought to its Knees

Halliburton C. and Baker Hughes Inc. have thrown in the towel for their $28 billion merger deal after opposition from US and European antitrust regulators. The agreement would have brought together the number 2 a nd 3 oil services companies, but it worried many that it would have resulted in higher prices in the sector. As Dave Lesar, chief executive of Halliburton said, “Challenges in obtaining remaining regulatory approvals and general industry conditions that severely damaged deal economics led to the conclusion that termination is the best course of action.”

Halliburton will now have to pay Baker Hughes a $3.5 billion breakup fee by Wednesday as a result of the end of the deal.

As U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement on Sunday, “The companies’ decision to abandon this transaction – which would have left many oilfield service markets in the hands of a duopoly – is a victory for the U.S. economy and for all Americans.”

Read more about the situation and the feelings on both sides with the full article here.

 

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