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AM Best Revises Issuer Credit Outlook to Negative for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and Its Subsidiary

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OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AM Best has revised the outlook to negative from stable for the
Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) and affirmed the
Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term ICR of
“bbb+” of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and its wholly owned
subsidiary, The Vermont Health Plan, LLC. The outlook of the FSR remains
stable. These companies are collectively known as BCBSVT Group. Both
companies are domiciled in Berlin, VT.

The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect BCBSVT Group’s balance sheet
strength, which AM Best categorizes as strong, as well as its marginal
operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate
enterprise risk management.

The revision of the Long-Term ICR outlook to negative from stable
reflects AM Best’s expectation that BCBSVT Group’s risk-adjusted capital
will remain under pressure in the medium to long term. The company’s
risk-adjusted capitalization deteriorated sequentially over the past
four years, as evidenced by the declining NAIC RBC score over company
action level.

From an operating performance perspective, the company has exhibited
earnings fluctuation as it has reported sharp losses in underwriting
results, where in some cases the organization’s investment income did
not provide a sufficient hedge to stabilize pre-tax operating
performance. The unfavorable underwriting results over the past four
years have been caused primarily by BCBSVT being unable to receive
adequate rate increases approved through the state’s rate review
process. Realized capital gains were positive over the past five years,
and over the same period, accumulated unrealized gains were largely
positive. However, balance sheet contraction occurred as a result of
unfavorable non-operating adjustments to capital and surplus. The
organization’s financial flexibility remains good. Its improved cash
position is a result of the availability of a renewable banking facility
that offers reasonable rates. Overall liquidity scores over the past
five years were strong, along with reduced but still strong working
capital ratios over the period.

With the highest market share in Vermont, BCBSVT Group is transitioning
toward becoming mainly a health and wellness organization, which is
expected to enhance its well-established, high-touch service
credentials. New product designs are in line with the organization’s
long-term imperative, which include market sustainability of individual
and small group lines of business, as well as higher penetration in the
Medicare segment.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published
on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release
and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible
for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release,
please see AM Best’s
Recent
Rating Activity
web page. For additional information
regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view
Understanding
Best’s Credit Ratings
. For information on the proper media
use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view
Guide
for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating
Action Press Releases
.

AM Best is a global rating agency and information provider with a
unique focus on the insurance industry. Visit
www.ambest.com
for more information
.

Copyright © 2019 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its
affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Contacts

David Mitchell
Senior Financial Analyst
+1
908 439 2200, 5556

david.mitchell@ambest.com

Bridget Maehr
Associate Director
+1 908 439
2200, ext. 5321

bridget.maehr@ambest.com

Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1
908 439 2200, ext. 5159

christopher.sharkey@ambest.com

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations
+1 908
439 2200, ext. 5644

james.peavy@ambest.com

Cannabis

Oppenheimer & Co. To Host 19th Annual Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Conference

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Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (“Oppenheimer”) – a leading investment bank, wealth manager, and a subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings (NYSE: OPY) – will host its 19th Annual Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Conference on June 18-19 in Boston, MA. This year’s event features companies from prominent consumer brands such as Autozone, Domino’s Pizza, Express, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Six Flags Theme Parks, Tiffany & Company, Ulta, Walmart, Weight Watchers, and Yum Brands.

Of particular note, Oppenheimer is pleased to host nine of the market-leading companies involved with emerging trends in the Cannabis space this year. The event will also feature seven panel discussions, moderated by Oppenheimer Consumer Research Analysts, addressing emerging and disruptive trends in the consumer marketplace as follows:

  • Evolving Role of Technology in the Consumer Sector with Cooler Screens and Lindsay Goldberg LLC, moderated by Brian Nagel
  • A Discussion with Emerging Restaurant Brands with Aurify and B. Good, moderated by Brian Bittner
  • A Discussion on the Evolving US Food & Beverage Landscape with Lifeway, New Age Beverage, and United Natural Foods, moderated by Rupesh Parikh
  • Next Gen Brands Re-Shaping Landscape for Women’s Fashion with CARAA and Rothy’s, moderated by Brian Nagel
  • Exciting New Brands Shaking Up Home Products Space with Burkelman, LoveSac and Resident/Nectar, moderated by Brian Nagel
  • A Discussion on the Emerging CBD Landscape with Curaleaf and CV Sciences, moderated by Rupesh Parikh
  • Leveraging the Power of Digital to Connect with Consumers with Eight and FlexShopper, moderated by Brian Nagel

The conference features Oppenheimer’s Consumer Senior Research Analysts:

  • Brian Bittner, Managing Director Senior Analyst covering Restaurants
  • Brian Nagel, Managing Director and Senior Analyst covering Retail and E-Commerce
  • Rupesh Parikh, Managing Director and Senior Analyst covering Food, Grocery and Consumer Products
  • Ian Zaffino, Managing Director and Senior Analyst covering event-driven Special Situations

“Long-established business models are being upended by disruptive brands and technology, affecting consumer preferences and buying behaviors throughout the consumer industry. This year’s event aims to showcase the mix of market-leading and emerging companies driving and navigating these changes,” said Erica L. Moffett, Managing Director and Associate Director of Research at Oppenheimer. “From effortless payment methods to accelerated delivery times and customized products, consumers want a seamless experience. In order to succeed, companies must stay current on the evolving consumer and we are pleased to host a conference to explore this new landscape.”

Oppenheimer’s next conference will be the Montauk Emerging Life Sciences Summit, which will be held on June 26-28in Montauk, NY. The 22nd Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference will follow on August 6-7 in Boston, MA, followed by the Midwest Corporate Access Day in Chicago on August 15.

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (Oppenheimer), a principal subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. (OPY on the New York Stock Exchange), and its affiliates provide a full range of wealth management, securities brokerage and investment banking services to high-net-worth individuals, families, corporate executives, local governments, businesses and institutions.

SOURCE Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

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Cannabis

iCAN: Israel-Cannabis CEO and Founder Saul Kaye to Participate at the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John, New Brunswick

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iCAN: Israel Cannabis Founder and CEO Saul Kaye will participate at the World Cannabis Conference being held in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada from June 16-18, 2019.

Kaye, a leader in the global cannabis ecosystem will moderate a session entitled, “Innovative Methodologies and Emerging Topics in Global Cannabis Research.”  Panelists are Dr. Suzanne Sisley MD President and Principal Investigator, Scottsdale Research Institute and, Dr. Jerry King, R&D Consultant, CFS.  The session will take place at the Saint John Trade & Convention Centre on June 18.

The World Cannabis Congress (WCC) is an exclusive, invite-only event for international cannabis leaders, influencers and trend setters. The event will have hundreds of attendees from around the world from business, government and medicine.

In addition to his leadership of iCAN: Israel Cannabis, Kaye is an industry advisor to the Medical Cannabis Caucus of the Israeli Parliament, as well as an advisor to the Ministries of Economy and Health in Israel. He is a licensed pharmacist and a successful entrepreneur with both retail and e-commerce experience. Saul has founded multiple companies spanning six countries across the US, EuropeIsrael and Australia.

Canada has truly been a global trailblazer in the cannabis industry.  Canadian cannabis companies and its stock market are influential and forward looking and we in Israel, the R&D capital of cannabis, collaborate with our Canadian friends on many different levels.  I look forward to participating at the WCC as the medicine and business of cannabis develops at breathtaking speed both in Israel and beyond,” said Kaye.

 

SOURCE iCAN: Israel Cannabis

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Cannabis

Loyalist College to launch Canada’s first Technology Access Centre for natural products and cannabis

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Loyalist College is the recipient of a $1,750,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program grant over five years to launch Canada’s first Technology Access Centre (TAC) for natural products and cannabis. In addition, Loyalist received $1Mthrough the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) College-Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF) to add specialized equipment to the TAC.

Loyalist was one of 90 recipients at colleges, cégeps and polytechnics across the country to receive part of the $73M in funding, announced today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Through the CCI Program and the CIIF, this investment will help post-secondary institutions partner directly with local employers to facilitate commercialization and transform the results of research and development into new technologies to help businesses expand and grow.

The rapid growth of Canada’s cannabis, hops and natural products sectors positions Loyalist’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis (ARC) as a national innovation hub for small- to medium-sized enterprises. As a TAC, Loyalist will build on the ARC’s 15 years of natural product extraction expertise and analysis-based applied research. In transitioning to a TAC, Loyalist’s ARC will significantly increase the College’s capacity to lead applied research of commercially relevant natural products and cannabis, and to support innovation by enhancing industries’ access to sector-relevant expertise and technology.

The TAC initiative will cultivate an environment for College-industry partnerships to thrive while providing students with unparalleled opportunities for work-integrated learning; investigating extraction, isolation, and formulation; and product development. In partnership with the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC), Loyalist will support the Bay of Quinte’s burgeoning natural products and cannabis sectors to generate regional socioeconomic benefits, and to provide opportunities for a new generation of innovators. Loyalist will also offer companies across Canada a supportive, community-oriented platform from which to enhance their productivity, expand their reach and augment their competitiveness in the global market.

Quotes

“We are very grateful for NSERC’s continued support and proud to be Canada’s first TAC for natural products and cannabis. Loyalist currently has more than 25 companies interested in applied research, and as our ARC transitions into a TAC, we will be able to meet their requirements while significantly extending our network to help more companies to innovate. Our Biosciences and Cannabis Applied Science students will have the advantage of being involved in ground-breaking research that propels Canada forward as the world leader in cannabis and natural product developments.” – Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist College President & CEO

“It’s great to see this NSERC and CFI funding come through for Loyalist College’s launch of Canada’s first TAC for research in natural products and cannabis. Being able to conduct research in a state-of-the-art facility means that students working in the College’s ARC will be able to build up their expertise in product analysis; which can then be applied directly to commercial development. This is just the beginning of seeing a new series of natural products being designed, assessed, made and delivered from our region.” – Neil R. Ellis, Member of Parliament for Bay of Quinte

“I am so proud to see the innovation that is driving research and economic development in our rural community through Loyalist College’s ARC. Innovation is key to Rural Sustainability and this investment will ensure that we are training the next generation in the latest technological advances. I congratulate them on their NSERC and CFI grant, and wish them all the best of success.” – Mike Bossio, Member of Parliament for Hastings—Lennox and Addington

“The Quinte Economic Development Commission is proud to be a supporting partner with Loyalist College on this important initiative that is aligned with economic development opportunities and priorities in the region. The TAC will support industry research and innovation for companies in key industry sectors as well as helping students develop in-demand skills and experience. Congratulations to the team at Loyalist on launching this important project.” – Chris King, Chief Executive Officer, Quinte Economic Development Commission

 

SOURCE Loyalist College

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