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April 7, 2022
CLAIMS RETURNING TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS
Claims for diabetes drugs and cancer treatment are returning to pre-pandemic levels, says Joyce Wong, director of clinical services at Express Scripts Canada. Speaking at its annual pharmacy outcomes session, she said as restrictions were lifted diabetes claims increased 9.4 per cent while cancer backlogs also decreased with claims increasing 5.4 per cent. While depression claims have not returned to pre pandemic levels, the 9.1 per cent increase in anti-depressant use represents only a 50 per cent reduction in its backlog estimates. While the federal government has purchased an oral COVID treatment, this is not going to have an impact on employer drug plans because it is strictly funded by the federal government and is being dispensed through hospitals and community pharmacies. In 2020 and 2021, approval was given for other COVID-19 anti-viral treatments, but these are mainly administered in hospitals. However, more treatments are under review by Health Canada.
April 7, 2022
INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS EXPOSED TO CRYPTO
A KPMG survey of Canadian institutional investors and financial services companies shows 32 per cent of respondents have direct or indirect exposure to crypto assets. For 50 per cent, the exposure is through exchange-traded funds, close-ended trusts, or other regulated products while 36 per cent have exposure to crypto-related public equities. It shows 29 per cent own crypto assets directly. Of institutional investor respondents, 57 per cent reported getting into crypto assets between 2020 and 2021, but most investments were relatively small, with 71 per cent allocating less than two per cent of their portfolio to the asset class. “Institutional investors are increasingly adding exposure to crypto assets to further diversify their portfolios given the reduced ability of government bonds to act as portfolio shock absorbers,” says Chris Farkas, a partner and national financial services consulting leader for asset management at KPMG in Canada. “While this is a newer and potentially promising space for institutional investors, they’re clearly taking a prudent approach.”
April 7, 2022
PACE OF VIDEO GAME CONSOLIDATION PICKS UP
Microsoft Corp.’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. is being dubbed the largest technology and gaming merger and acquisition deal in history, says AIMCo. Microsoft’s intent to buy one of the largest video game developers shows a paradigm shift in the commercialization of the game industry. Chris Tsang, associate portfolio manager, fundamental equities, at AIMCo, says, “For Microsoft, the acquisition is both horizontal and vertical in nature.” Horizontal mergers are where consolidation occurs between assets that operate in the same portion of the value chain. Vertical mergers are where consolidation occurs between assets that operate in different parts of the supply chain. If Microsoft makes some or all of Activision’s video game content exclusive to the Microsoft consoles to strengthen its gaming franchise, this will have clear competitive and consumer implications and may not pass FTC approval. If the FTC approves the acquisition, it will set a strong precedent for video game publishers and consumers alike. The consolidation of video game publishers is not new, he says, but the pace at which smaller video game publishers are getting acquired by larger tech and video game companies has picked up in recent years. The reason for this is the rise in popularity of gaming, especially over the past two years. In 2020, gaming quickly emerged as one of the most popular activities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Tsang says Microsoft’s move to acquire Activision has caused investment managers to look more seriously at opportunities in gaming.
April 7, 2022
CLIMATE CHANGE MADE PRIORITY
iA Financial Group has made the fight against climate change a priority. Its ‘2021 Sustainable Development Report’ establishes a concrete strategy which integrates the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This strategy includes developing and disclosing a positioning statement on climate change; creating a task force on climate change to conclude the ‘For a carbon-free future’ project; and establishing, deploying, and implementing an action plan to reduce our carbon footprint. Each of the three components was deployed throughout the year. In 2021, it released a total of 13,767 tons of GHG (greenhouse gas), the majority of which is from the energy consumption of its buildings. Working with Planetair, its partner in the fight against climate change, it invested more than $187,600 in projects with global reach: a biomass project in Brazil and a biogas project in Thailand.
April 7, 2022
NAVACORD PARTNERS WITH BENEPLAN
Navacord Corp. has partnered with Beneplan. Founded in 2000, Beneplan is dedicated to helping small- to medium-sized businesses that seek affordable healthcare for their staff. Yafa Sakkejha, CEO of Beneplan, says, “Partnering with Navacord will give us the national leverage we need to continue our path as an industry trailblazer.”