January 2023

Business

Delhi High Court Affirms Treaty Benefit In Blackstone’s Case

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In a welcome ruling for investors coming from treaty countries, the Delhi High Court has dismissed allegation of tax evasion against Blackstone Group’s Singapore entity.

The high court set aside reassessment proceedings against Blackstone Capital Partners (Singapore) VI FDI Three Pte., while emphasising that revenue authorities cannot question the sanctity of the tax residency certificate.

This decision would provide a huge relief to foreign investors, since the court has categorically recorded that the TRC is statutorily the only evidence required to be eligible for the benefit under the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement, Kumarmangalam Vijay, partner at JSA, told BQ Prime.

The transaction, which prompted a notice from the tax authorities, related to Blackstone’s acquisition in India-based Agile Electric Sub Assembly Pvt. back in 2013. Blackstone had later sold its shares in Agile to Igarashi Electric Works Ltd. and others in 2015.

While filing its 2016-17 returns, Blackstone had claimed that the gains earned by it on sale of shares were not taxable by virtue of the DTAA entered into between India and Singapore. In December 2021, the tax department issued a reassessment notice saying that the nature and genuineness of the transaction was not verified.

In its response, Blackstone said that the transaction between the parties was genuine and it was entitled to the benefit of India-Singapore DTAA. To support its contentions, Blackstone relied on various documents such as its bank statement, audited financial statement, memorandum and articles of association, etc. The department disagreed stating that the power to reopen the assessment is wide in nature.

Aggrieved by the department’s stance, Blackstone approached the Delhi High Court.

The court noted the revenue authorities’ reason for reassessment, namely for verifying the nature and genuineness of the transaction. This, the high court pointed out, is untenable in law as the return of income had been filed by the petitioner within time and with full particulars. The time period for verification as well as for seeking clarification or additional documents and information had also expired, the court said.

“The Assessing Officer has to show that there is a live link or close nexus between the material before the Assessing Officer and the belief that there has been escapement of the income chargeable to tax.”

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Technology

Bitcoin-based app Strike expands in Philippines to grow cross-border payment solutions • TechCrunch

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Strike, a Bitcoin-based payment network and financial app, is expanding to the Philippines to grow cross-border payments and remittance markets.

“The Philippines is one of the biggest remitting markets in the world, especially from the United States,” Jack Mallers, CEO of Strike, said to TechCrunch. In 2021, about $12.7 billion in cash remittances was sent from U.S.-based Filipinos to the Philippines, according to Statista data.

“As far as the technology we build, it’s one of the lowest-hanging fruits — international payments are a huge pain and always have been. There’s been incremental innovation from SWIFT and Western Union, but it’s still incredibly difficult.”

Even across Western countries, traditional cross-border money transfers services are slower as bank transfers can take multiple days for funds to move from one account to another.

Strike uses instantaneous, low-cost micropayments through the Lightning Network, a layer-2 payment protocol on top of Bitcoin, which allows millions to billions of transactions per second to transpire across the platform. The app’s platform also allows users to transfer U.S. dollars to local fiat currencies, like the Philippine peso, for less than 1 cent per transaction, Mallers noted.

“None of our users have to touch Bitcoin,” Mallers said. The app uses Bitcoin to transfer money from one user’s account to another, regardless of its price. “The aspiration of the business is to hide Bitcoin under the hood” so users could benefit from its payment network, he added.

For example, if a customer wants to take $5 and send it to a country like the Philippines, the Bitcoin is converted over the Lightning Network and reconverted into the local currency “in the order of seconds to minutes as opposed to days or weeks,” Mallers said.

Aside from the Philippines, Strike plans on expanding further in the Latin American and African regions as well due to the “extreme amount of demand,” Mallers shared. “We’re seeing partners pop up all over the world.”

Now, Strike is gaining demand and partners seeking out integrations from everywhere between the U.K. and throughout Europe all the way to “20 new countries we’ll potentially add in February in Africa,” Mallers added.

Earlier this month, Strike partnered with payments provider Fiserv, the parent company of Clover (the fancy white digital register at many small businesses today), to expand its services.

Last year, it raised $80 million in a Series B round to drive its efforts to grow payment solutions for merchants, marketplaces and financial institutions, the company said. Strike also joined forces with Visa in August 2022 to launch a rewards card that pairs with its application.

In general, the company’s partnerships and announcement point to its focus on growing the remittance market through its application and other alternative avenues, like Clover.

“The goal is to make cross-border payments and global payments cheaper and faster,” Mallers said. “But also more accessible. There’s huge value here for financial inclusion.”

Some Strike users will send amounts as little as 10 cents to their families, Mallers shared. But through a traditional financial system, the fees would outweigh the benefits, he added. “We can process a 10-cent payment…and you don’t have to log into Chase for an international wire transfer.”

Going forward, there are opportunities to improve the existing remittance markets while also unlocking new markets, he added. “You’ll start to see a renaissance of tools really closing that big delta gap and you’ll start seeing more financial institutions like Square and CashApp take advantage of this.”

Over the next decade, Mallers thinks remittance networks and applications like Lightning and Strike will expand opportunities from the 2 billion to 3 billion people that are “generally included in the global international payments system” to all 8 billion.

“That’ll be like a renaissance moment,” Mallers said. “It’s a really huge deal.”



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Law \ Legal

What Health Plans Need To Know About QHPs Now That the ACA Is Here To Stay

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Providing Qualified Health Plans, or QHPs, that meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act has become an integral part of many health plans’ offerings. Now that numerous calls for repeal and legal challenges brought against the ACA over the years have failed, health plans can finally invest confidently in this line of business.

As healthcare costs continue to rise, Americans need QHPs. With 35 million people enrolled in coverage related to the ACA and rapid growth of enrollments, QHP plans present an incredible growth opportunity for participating health plans. Here’s what health plans need to know to navigate this market successfully.

Regulatory filing is key — and inflexible

QHPs can be lucrative for health plans, but this particular revenue stream comes with unique responsibilities. Regulatory filing for the purpose of maintaining compliance can be a cumbersome burden and tedious task — there are myriad changes each year — but even the simplest of mistakes can result in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

For example, Tufts Health missed a Rhode Island regulatory filing deadline by two minutes — which Tufts attributed to traffic and construction — and it may have caused them to lose a $400 million Medicaid contract. The snafu disqualified Tufts from bidding on Rhode Island’s $7 billion contract for five years. The rejection of Tufts’ appeal cited avoiding setting a precedent that would allow the acceptance of proposals that were submitted late. In other words, if you can’t file on time, you can’t be trusted to offer a health plan in the marketplace.

In addition to high-stakes examples like this with long-term repercussions, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services scores and rates health plans based on the quality of their QHPs on an annual basis. Ratings are based on a number of measures using CMS methodology and criteria such as enrollee experience, plan efficiency, affordability and management on a national and health plan-specific basis.

While the health insurance business is highly regulated, investing in offering QHPs comes with an additional level of scrutiny and complexity for which health plans have to be ready. Noncompliance can lead to federal fines, withdrawal from federal and state exchanges for years, or other penalties. Some states will impose thousand-dollar-a-day fines for missing a deadline.

A seasonal specialization

Every state releases updates to their guidance, often hundreds of pages in length, which dictates changes to benefit coverage — changes in cost shares, copays, filing deadlines, etc. — during the first quarter of the year. So, for large health plans who offer QHPs in a dozen or more states, that’s a lot to intake, interpret, document and process in order to maintain compliance. Simply tracking regulatory changes and making recommendations to the organization could be a full-time job.

For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services recently extended the Covid-19 public health emergency through December 31, 2024. This will have a big impact on how QHP member subsidies are determined and may result in large shifts between carriers. Any health plan offering QHPs has likely tracked and projected how this plays out.

While guidelines and information can change any time, Q2 is the time for filing. This takes an extraordinary effort from the health plan employees dedicated to completing this task. But as we move into the second half of the year, those responsibilities slow down tremendously. The people who handle regulatory filing usually find their responsibilities allocated elsewhere.

Despite this inherently being treated as a hybrid position, it is crucial for these employees to be experts in this area. Given the unforgiving nature of the regulatory process, the health plan’s bottom line — or a big chunk of it — is in the hands of those making these filings, even if they have other duties at other times of year.

The QHP market can be volatile

The massive job loss in 2020 as a result of the pandemic meant that many Americans who previously were insured through their employer were suddenly in need of QHPs. They turned to the state and federal exchanges. But when those same people went back to work in 2021, they left their QHP for employer-sponsored plans.

While an event like Covid-19 is quite rare, the demand for QHPs can fluctuate. For health plans — some of which earn half their revenue from QHPs — it takes careful business planning to navigate this ebb and flow.

While the demand can shift some, there’s no doubt that there is a need for this type of plan. Since the threat of an ACA repeal that would wipe out the QHP market has abated, that demand will continue for the foreseeable future. Health plans can finally offer these products with confidence — provided they navigate the regulatory landscape effectively.

Photo: Sylverarts, Getty Images

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News

Instant observations: Sixers squander 21-point lead in loss to Magic

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The Sixers turned the ball over 18 times in a brutal 119-109 loss to the Magic, squandering a 21-point lead with poor effort and defense in the final three quarters.

Here’s what I saw.

The Good

• Anytime Matisse Thybulle has seven points in the first half of a basketball game, you basically have to treat that as found money. I’m under no illusion that he’s on the verge of a breakthrough on that end of the floor, but we saw more from him in a single game than we might see over a period of weeks during a season, and that’s worth celebrating. 

It wasn’t just that Thybulle hit threes in this game, it’s that he actively tried to hunt his own shot. After hitting a corner three in the first half, Thybulle found some confidence on offense, attempting (and making!) a three off of movement in the third quarter. There was even a play where he put his shoulder into a Magic player and tried to play a bit of bully bull inside the arc, coming up with everything aside from the finish at the rim after working his way there from the perimeter.

That alone represents progress. Thybulle’s offensive problems are two-fold, as he hasn’t shot well and he’s timid about letting shots go. If he can at least find an aggressive streak, perhaps whatever work he has put in will win out over the long term.

Thybulle deserves plenty of credit for his defensive work which frequently empowered his offensive opportunities. The Magic are not exactly loaded with ballhandling and playmaking talent, and that’s a style of team Thybulle is best suited to disrupt. Take Bol Bol, for example. He’s widely known as a black hole on offense, and Thybulle had clearly read the scouting report, flooding Bol’s airspace whenever he caught the ball. 

He was one of the few guys who draped himself in glory on Monday night, a couple of days after another strong outing against Denver.

The Bad

• Philadelphia looked to have this game well in control in the second quarter, running out to a 21-point lead and looking like a team who could spend most of the second half in towel-waving mode. But they took their foot off of the gas a bit in the late stages of the first half, allowing the Magic back into a game they probably should have had in the bag by then.

Their problems basically all came on defense, where attention to detail and effort came and went. James Harden had some possessions where he just watched as guys went by him or flashed to the perimeter for wide-open threes, and he had plenty of company in lethargic land. Montrezl Harrell was his typically disengaged self on that end, Tyrese Maxey was a little bit out of his depth against a super-sized team, and so on down the line.

(On the Maxey point — he was totally unequipped to defend former Sixers guard Markelle Fultz, even with Fultz completely disinterested in the three-point line. Fultz simply went through the smaller guard at times, picking up some tough points in the paint in the second half.)

I’m not sure you need to analyze this one much deeper than saying the effort sucked for at least half of this game. It would be one thing to concede open shots to non-shooters and say you’re making a strategic decision, but the Sixers left almost everybody open at one point or another in this game. Harden was the biggest culprit, stuck on a bigger player and refusing to switch on several occasions, but it was a teamwide struggle.

• Turnovers were Philadelphia’s other main issue after a hot start, some of which you credit to the Magic and some of which you chalk up to general sloppiness. Orlando was disruptive, getting into Embiid’s airspace and catching him off guard several times throughout the night. But again, Philadelphia’s lack of focus burned them in this department. Backcourt giveaways on inbounds passes, for example, should basically never happen, and the Sixers had a few turnovers simply trying to get the ball in after a made basket for Orlando.

The Sixers didn’t respond well when they turned the ball over or failed to finish a possession with a make, their old transition defense problem roaring back to the forefront. Nearly a quarter of Orlando’s shot attempts in this game came in transition, a bad sign for Philadelphia’s ball security and offensive execution. They ran at basically every opportunity they had on live-ball rebounds, and the Sixers were only halfway interested in dealing with that.

After allowing the Magic to get back into this game, there was still an opportunity for Philadelphia to pull away or even out-talent Orlando, the game knotted at 97 when Embiid checked back in toward the start of the fourth quarter. By that point, though, the Magic seemed to sense that they had a real chance to win this game, and their desire to steal one on the road was palpable as they beat the Sixers to a bunch of loose balls that swung possessions and led to points. On top of that, the Sixers spent far too much of this game complaining to the officials about calls, giving the Magic odd-man rush opportunities while bickering with the refs.

Just an ugly game overall after a very promising start.

• Harden was probably due for a subpar outing. They shouldn’t have needed an A+ Harden game to beat the Orlando Magic, and he didn’t come close to delivering that sort of performance.

Of all the players in the lineup, he appeared to be most impacted by Orlando’s funky lineup. Harden didn’t get downhill basically at all in this game, left to make an impact solely with stepback threes and passes sprayed around the floor. He did plenty of smart playmaking as always, but his jumper wasn’t there most of the evening, and on the rare occasion he did get to the hoop, Harden was often left wanting, his first points in the paint coming late in this game.

Add that on top of the defensive issues, and you have the recipe for a Sixers loss.

• I still do not understand the point of Harrell, and bringing him in during a big Orlando run was just a comical decision from Rivers. 

• The Sixers did not appear to understand they had a decent-sized lead to cut into late, and wasted several relatively open shot opportunities before eventually turning the ball over on the possession that basically decided the game. 

• This was basically the perfect setting for a letdown performance. Embiid was coming off of a banger against the man who beat him to the last two MVP awards, the Sixers were fresh off of a win against the No. 1 seed in the West, and Philadelphia’s attention is almost wholly on the Eagles. Who would have noticed if they laid an egg against the Orlando Magic?

The Sixers at least decided to show up for the first quarter. Embiid was engaged defensively — well, mostly — from the opening tip onward, and that was just about all the Sixers needed to jump on a bad Magic team.

Following a pair of excellent blocks at the rim on Franz Wagner, Embiid made a concerted effort to run the floor and use his strength advantage for early seals in/around the paint. The big man also found some synergy with Tobias Harris early in this game, though not in the way you might expect — it was the big guy playing setup man for Harris, who served as the second option on offense for most of this one.

In theory, the Magic have the length to shrink the floor and bat balls away from Embiid when he tries to move toward the rim. In practice, his primary defender was always going to be giving up too much weight for that to make a difference. The Magic have a group of guys he has tortured throughout his career (Mo Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr. specifically) and wasted no time getting to work in one-on-one battles. Even when the Magic sent a second defender or succeeded in catching him off guard with late help, Embiid often just shot himself out of trouble, killing Orlando along the baseline with silky touch.

If only that guy had been available for the second half. In spite of the fact that he had 30-10-5 at the end of the game, I thought this was a crappy second half from Embiid. Way too many sloppy turnovers and not enough killer instinct. 

The Ugly

• Doc Rivers pulled Embiid in the final minute of the first half, in what I would imagine was a move to protect him from a third foul. But Embiid’s reaction to the sub was absolutely hilarious, looking up at the scoreboard in confusion before slowly walking over to the head coach.

• The game clocks at Wells Fargo Center somehow didn’t get fixed between Saturday’s win over the Nuggets and this game. Guess nobody was working on Sunday because of the Eagles, or something. Amateur hour!


Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports



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Sports

Joseph Ossai’s most important critic has walked back his words

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Joseph Ossai’s harshest critic from the AFC Championship loss was none other than his own teammate. Germaine Pratt has since apologized for his outburst.

Joseph Ossai’s harshest critic from Sunday night’s AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was none other than his own Cincinnati Bengals teammate, Germaine Pratt. After a few days of reflection, Pratt has apologized for his violent outburst.

Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt went viral earlier this week for his hostile reaction to his teammate’s blunder at the end of the AFC Championship game.

It’s never a good look when your teammate curses you out on camera, and Pratt recognized his mistake and issued a statement admitting he was in the wrong:

“I was in the moment. I was wrong. I would say I was wrong. As a man, you can look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I was wrong.’ I wasn’t a great teammate in that moment. That doesn’t define me as a man.”

A behind-the-scenes video showed Pratt walking to the locker room after his team was defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-20. Visibly upset and frustrated, Pratt yelled, “Why would you touch the f—ing quarterback?,” referencing Joseph Ossai’s careless penalty at the end of the fourth quarter in which he shoved Patrick Mahomes when Mahomes was already out of bounds.

Ossai was flagged for unnecessary roughness, leading to an automatic 15-yard gain for the Chiefs that put Kansas City in prime field goal position. With three seconds remaining, Harrison Butker then kicked the game-winning 45-yarder to send the Bengals packing.

Bengals’ Germaine Pratt regrets blowing up at Joseph Ossai after AFC Championship loss

While the rest of the NFL world came together in support of Ossai, who was seen crying on the sidelines, Pratt was one of the only ones who reacted in such a hostile and negative way.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor defended Ossai, claiming the game didn’t come down to that one play, and defensive tackle B.J. Hill acted extra-protective of Ossai in the locker room when the media came for questions.

Pratt is set to become a free agent this offseason, yet his recent antics probably won’t factor into whether he will be extended by the Bengals as it does indeed seem like a one-time incident.

The 2019 third-round pick had put together a solid 2022 season for Cincinnati in which he recorded 99 tackles, 10 passes defended, and one sack in 15 games. In the AFC Championship, he recorded a team-high seven tackles and looked like one of the team’s most reliable defenders out there.

Pratt was likely just feeling the heat of the moment after a tough playoff defeat, and he has otherwise behaved as an upstanding teammate for the past four years in Cincy.

One emotional outburst shouldn’t ruin his career, just as Ossai’s costly penalty doesn’t make him any less than.

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Business

Israel hands over Haifa Port to Adani Enterprises

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The Israel government handed over the Haifa Port to Adani Enterprises Ltd. and its joint venture partner Gadot Group on Tuesday, finalising the ambitious acquisition for the ports-to-transmission conglomerate.

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the port book at the event to mark the handover in Haifa.

Adani exuded confidence that the group would transform the entire port landscape with support from Israel, the local authorities, and joint venture partner Gadot.

“We realise that there will be competition from others, but our confidence comes from our belief in the people of Israel and, therefore, our belief in the Israel growth story,” he said.

“The acquisition of the Haifa port also comes with a significant amount of real estate. And I promise you that in the years to come, we will transform the skyline we see around us. The Haifa of tomorrow will look very different from the Haifa that you see today. With your support, we will deliver on this commitment and do our part to transform this city,” the Adani Group founder said.

Talking about Adani Group’s future plans for Israel, he said the company would set up an artificial intelligence lab in Tel Aviv and it will work in close collaboration with its new AI labs in India and the U.S.

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Technology

Brazilian online grocery deliverer Diferente secures $3M to increase customers’ access to healthier food • TechCrunch

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When you live very far away from a grocery store, we’re talking like an hour and may include catching several buses or a rideshare, it can be difficult to make the weekly trip in. Enter Diferente, which touts itself as “the largest subscription foodtech for fresh organic produce in Brazil.”

Former James Delivery founder Eduardo Petrelli teamed up with Saulo Marti and Paulo Monçores to launch Diferente in early 2022 with a mission of making healthy foods accessible and to cut down on the 30% of the imperfect produce typically thrown away by grocery stores.

To do this, the company sources directly from organic farmers and is able to offer prices that are 40% lower than what you would find in the grocery store. Customers choose weekly or bi-monthly delivery slots and Diferente’s proprietary algorithm predicts the ideal basket of fruits, vegetables and leaves, with customers being able to customize the amounts.

The algorithm takes into account their preferences and the availability, seasonality and recurrence of the item and tailors future boxes accordingly. There is also some intelligence built in for the farmers to help plan their crops based on what’s popular with customers.

“Brazilians are extremely price sensitive when they buy groceries, so if you charge anything more than the normal price, they are going to buy in the offline module,” Petrelli told TechCrunch.

He noted that Diferente is able to gain traction with a low cost of customer acquisition because moe than 80% of Brazilian families cook at home versus the United States, where that is just less than 40%.

“Clients here like very fresh foods and need them on a weekly basis,” Petrelli added. “That’s part of why we think that we have the unique business model for Latin America.”

However, the company isn’t taking the instant delivery approach that competitors like JOKR are doing. Instead, it is focusing on Brazil’s density and recognizing that families are more spread outside of the big cities, which enables Diferente to go after other kinds of customers that will order larger carts on a weekly basis.

That approach seems to be working. Petrelli said Diferente, operating in 12 cities within the State of São Paulo, is already profitable per order. In addition, co-founder Saulo Marti said in the past 10 months, average order volume increased from 13.8% to 17.2%, and customers on average are ordering two boxes per month at a rate of $15 per box.

Not only do those figures point to good margins and good retention, but the ability for Diferente to expand in a more efficient way, Petrelli said. Since launching in 2022, the company has grown seven times in revenue and is starting off 2023 with a “positive contribution margin,” as Petrelli expects to end 2024 with more than $30 million in revenue. It has also “rescued” 300,000 kilograms of food already.

Last year, the company raised $4.4 million in seed funding and is adding $3 million more in a round led by Caravela Capital that also included Collaborative Fund and two new funds, South Ventures and Valor Siren Ventures. This gives Diferente $7.4 million in total funding since it was founded.

The new funding will help the company get its app launched, enter new categories and SKUs and get its second phase of artificial intelligence-powered customization underway this year. It will do some hiring to add 20% to 30% more employees this year to work with the current roster of 75 people.

Diferente also has plans to expand its delivery radius. Petrelli estimates there are 50 million potential customers within the company’s current operating area. Meanwhile, the company is offering an average of 50 stock keeping units (SKU) and has up to 170 SKUs available, depending on seasonality, Marti added.

“Sixty-two percent of our customers are middle class and they aren’t being targeted for buying online as much as the higher class, so that is a unique opportunity for us to go to cities where no one is going,” Petrelli said. “We already forecasted 36 cities that we can go around São Paulo, and we are now just planning how many we’re going to acquire.”

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Law \ Legal

Biglaw Firm That Lost $62 Million Assures Everyone They’re Going To Be Just Fine Financially

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hundreds money bonusesLast week we told you about the arbitration brought against the Biglaw firm Husch Blackwell by, what I presume is now a former client, engineering firm Burns & McDonnell. Burns & McDonnell alleged that Husch Blackwell partner Charles Renner, in his role as outside counsel for the Kansas City city council, tanked their bid to build the new KC airport. Meanwhile another client of Renner’s ultimately scored the airport contract.

The arbitration panel found Renner breached his duty of loyalty to a firm client. They awarded Burns & McDonnell $62 million, representing the anticipated profits to the engineering firm, had it won the contract.

There was a confidentiality clause in the arbitration agreement, so Husch Blackwell has been mum on the entire sitch. At least publicly.

Internally, an email sent by Paul Eberle, the firm’s chief executive officer, and Catherine Hanaway, the firm chair, provides a tiny bit more detail on how the firm’s dealing post-decision. The email reveals that the firm thinks the decision is “wrong on its merits,” but it will move forward “despite this setback.”

Importantly — particularly given Biglaw concerns over a coming economic downturn — the email makes clear that there will not be a “material impact on the firm’s financial condition.” Good ole’ professional liability insurance will be covering the costs.

You can read the full email below.

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Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.



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News

Are plant-based meats healthy? These products often lack nutrients found in animal protein, research shows

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Plant-based meats have become more popular in recent years, with consumers being able to find alternatives to everything from hot dogs to breakfast sausages. 

And though plant-based meats are generally considered the healthier option, they sometimes lack nutrients found in their meat equivalents, a new study found.

In testing 132 plant-based meat products, researchers in Australia found that they offered similar amounts of protein when compared to equivalent meat products. But only 12% of plant-based meats were fortified with iron, zinc and B-12 – nutrients that are commonly found in animal protein. Plant-based meats also can be high in sugar.

Iron is essential for growth and development. The body uses the mineral to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to organs and tissue. Zinc, another mineral, is needed to support the immune system, and B-12, a vitamin, plays a major role in the body’s red blood cell formation, cell metabolism and nerve function.

Maria Shahid, a data analyst at the George Institute for Global Health, which conducted the study, said both meat options are concerning when it comes to healthy eating.

“Both plant-based and processed meats mostly fall into the ultra-processed category, so this raises concerns about their role in a healthy diet,” Shahid said. “While we found plant-based meat products were generally healthier than their processed meat equivalents, healthier alternatives would still be lean unprocessed meats and legumes, beans and falafel.”

Plant-based meats are typically made from peas, soy, wheat gluten and rice. Though they may lack some essential vitamins, the researchers found they generally have less saturated fat and sodium than meat products. They also offer more fiber. Processed and red meats also have been linked to cancer.

Daisy Coyle, a dietitian at the George Institute, recommended people eat plant-based meat products in moderation until more is known about their health impacts. 

“But it isn’t as simple as a straight swap – solely relying on meat alternatives as a direct replacement for meat could lead to iron, zinc and B12 deficiencies over time if you are not boosting your intake of these essential nutrients from other sources or taking supplements,” Coyle said.

To avoid these deficiencies, Coyle advised people to eat eggs and dairy products to gain essential animal proteins, and to consume iron-rich foods like chick peas, nuts and dark, leafy greens. 

“Until we know more about the health impacts of plant-based meat analogues and have recommendations on how to include them as part of a healthy balanced diet, its best to eat them in moderation along with other plant-based proteins such as bean patties, falafel and tofu, or if you are not vegetarian or vegan, unprocessed lean meats and seafood.”

Deena Champion, a registered dietician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, examined the nutritional value of plant-based meats in a blog post last year. She noted that a plant-based label doesn’t necessarily mean a food is healthier.

“Many alternatives to animal products, including alternatives to cheeses, contain coconut oil which is a saturated fat,” Champion wrote. “Again, moderation is key here.”

Champion also recommended people opt for meat alternatives made with whole foods, noting she has enjoyed frozen veggie burgers made with lentils, kale, sweet potatoes and flax. They were high in fiber, protein and nutrients – and tasted good, she said.

“This is an example of a product that, nutritionally, was a better option than meat,” Champion wrote. “However, I’ve seen some vegan or plant-based options that are nutritionally worse or no better than their meat counterparts.”

Plant-based meats soared in popularity in 2020. Sales increased by 45%, according to data collected by the Good Food Institute. Plant-based food dollar sales grew by 6% – three times faster than overall food sales. 

But that growth flatlined in 2021 and began falling in 2022, the Washington Post reported in November. That may partly be due to the price of plant-based meats. Plant-based beef is twice as expensive as beef and plant-based chicken is four times as expensive as chicken. 

Another factor is unclear health benefits. The second generation of plant-based food products were marketed toward flexitarians – people who are seeking to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, their meat consumption. 

“But once the novelty went away, the consumer started to read the label,” JP Frossard, a consumer foods analyst at Rabobank, told the Post. “Meat has one ingredient and now you’re looking at products with 15. People started asking, ‘What is methyl cellulose and why am I paying a premium for it?'”

For people who are looking to adopt healthier lifestyles, leaner meats are better, Champion wrote, noting it’s ideal to add plants to one’s diet.

“In general, we always want to (choose) more minimally processed foods for the majority of our diet,” Champion wrote. “Highly processed foods often contain added salt, fat and sugar, which in high amounts can cause problems. Plus, when we fill up on highly processed foods, we leave less room for healthier options.”

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Eagles may have applied unconventional coaching search strategy to find their next great executive

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The Philadelphia Eagles have a knack for going against the grain with hires. Their recent executive hire may be along those same lines.

In a recent column from Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer looking at the team’s hiring tendencies with head coaches, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie spoke about the team’s repeated decision to ignore what is expected and considered “normal” when it comes to hiring head coaches.

There’s one simple key: Lurie and the Eagles decide to do the right thing and have confidence in their decisions.

“I know it’s not the conformist thing to do,” Lurie said. “As I said, nobody wanted Andy. Nobody wanted Doug. Nobody knew about Nick, I guess. I don’t know. Didn’t make sense to me. Didn’t make sense to Howie. We feel: Just do the right thing, and you’re going to have a chance to be great. And if you don’t do the right thing, you have no chance. That’s kind of what it is. Just have confidence in what you think is the right way and what gives you the best chance of high success.”

A recent executive hire follows that same archetype.

The Eagles hired someone with unexpected background as a new executive

According to a report from Bloomberg.com, Adam Berry has been hired to the Eagles (subscription required) as an executive. Berry is joining the personnel department.

Fans might be surprised to take a look at his prior experience, which is far from the sports industry. Berry is leaving a role as Managing Director and Head of U.S. Bank Loan Trading at Goldman Sachs.

Not every day you find your next great executive in the banking world, so what makes Berry a fit?

Well, for one, it runs in the family. Andrew Berry, Adam’s brother, is the Cleveland Browns General Manager. Adam also played wide receiver at Princeton University.

The Eagles have to be pleased with the team current GM Howie Roseman has built, but at 35, Berry could be a general manager candidate for the future, whether with the Eagles or elsewhere.

Clearly, the Eagles must be confident in his skills, despite the lack of football experience at the executive level. We’ll see if the unconventional hiring continues to pay off. Maybe more Browns and Eagles deals to come, too, with the new family connection the two teams have.

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