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We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We would like to thank you for working with Advisory Excellence throughout 2018 and hope you and your colleagues have a wonderful festive break.

Our offices will be closed from 1pm on Friday 21st December and will re-open on Monday 7th January 2019.

Should you need any urgent help over this period, our helpdesk (+44 (0) 20 3137 6198) will be open as usual.

We look forward to working with you in 2019!

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Tilray® Announces International Advisory Board

Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY), a global pioneer in cannabis production and distribution, today announced the formation of its International Advisory Board, an esteemed group of business and government leaders who will provide guidance to Tilrays executive team and Board of Directors as the company pursues its aggressive global growth strategy.

We are honored to welcome this impressive group of distinguished leaders to the Tilray team, says Brendan Kennedy, Tilray CEO. As we pioneer the future of our industry around the world, the experts on our International Advisory Board will advise us on our rapidly expanding global business.

Inaugural members of Tilrays International Advisory Board include:

  • Governor Howard Dean is a former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman, presidential candidate, six-term Governor of Vermont, and physician. Gov. Dean is also the founder of Democracy for America, a lecturer at Yale University and a strategic consultant for the global law firm Dentons.
  • Michael Steele made history when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Maryland in 2003, as the first African American elected to statewide office; and again, with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Under Mr. Steeles leadership the RNC broke fundraising records and led Republicans to win 63 House seats in 2010, the biggest pick-up since 1938. Mr. Steele is an accomplished author and media commentator.
  • The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy P.C., C.C., O.M., is the chair of the World Refugee Council and one of Canadas leading voices on global migration and refugee protection. Throughout his 27-year political career, he served as Canadas Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Employment and Immigration, among other postings.
  • Joschka Fischer served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group and a member of the Executive Board of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Fischer also currently serves as Managing Partner of Joschka Fischer & Company, a global strategy firm, where he advises clients on issues relating to Germany and the European Union.
  • Jaime Gama is the longest-serving Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs. Over a distinguished career in public policy, Mr. Gama served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Defense, and Minister of State. He was a member of the Government in 2001 when Portugal approved its decriminalization and harm reduction drug policy. He was elected Member of Parliament and served as the Speaker of the Parliament. Mr. Gama serves as the chairman of a bank and of a private foundation.
  • The Honourable Alexander John Gosse Downer, AC, was the longest-serving Minister for Foreign Affairs in Australia in history, holding his position for ten years. He also served has High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Mr. Downer was a diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs, serving in the Australian Mission to the European Union, the Australian Representation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and at Australian embassies in Belgium and Luxembourg.
  • Rt Hon Sir Donald McKinnon, ONZ, GCVO, was New Zealands longest serving Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and held the portfolios of Disarmament and Arms Control, Veterans Affairs, War Pensions, and Pacific Island Affairs. Mr. McKinnon served as Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the House and was appointed a member of Her Majestys Privy Council. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in initiating and overseeing the ceasefire between Bougainvilleans and the Papua New Guinea Government in 1997.
  • Mar­a Lorena Gutirrez Botero served as Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, as well as Ambassador of Colombia to Germany, as a member of President Juan Manuel Santos government. Ms. Gutirrez has served as a member of numerous boards of directors of international organizations and universities, such as the European Foundation for Management Development, the Sumaq Alliance, the Latin American Council of Administration Schools, the Business Association for Latin American Studies and the Quality Corporation of Colombia.
  • James OBrien served two U.S. administrations as Special Presidential Envoy. Mr. OBrien has been Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State and served as the Principal Deputy Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Mr. OBrien currently serves as Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) and heads up the firms practice in Europe.
  • Dr. Lorna Marsden is a former Canadian Senator from Ontario who was appointed to the position by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. She served in the Senate for eight and a half years, where she was a member of the Standing Committee on National Finance and chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Dr. Marsden also served as President and Vice-Chancellor of York University and President and Vice-Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

About Tilray, Inc.

Tilray is a global pioneer in the research, cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis and cannabinoids is currently serving tens of thousands of patients in twelve countries spanning five continents.

Cautionary Note regarding Forward-looking Statements:

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which may be identified by the use of words such as, may, would, could, will, likely, expect, anticipate, believe, intend, plan, forecast, project, estimate, outlook and other similar expressions, including statements related to Tilrays global strategy and the International Advisory Board. Forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance and are based upon a number of estimates and assumptions of management in light of managements experience and perception of trends, current conditions and expected developments, as well as other factors that management believes to be relevant and reasonable in the circumstances, including assumptions in respect of current and future market conditions. Actual results, performance or achievement could differ materially from that expressed in, or implied by, any forward-looking statements in this press release, and, accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements and they are not guarantees of future results. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual future results or anticipated events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements. Please see the heading Risk Factors in Tilrays Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2018 and the risks discussed in Tilrays other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a discussion of the material risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information. Tilray does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that are included herein, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

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Insurance firms set to increase spending on actuarial consultants

The research by Barnett Waddingham shows that three in five life insurers plan to spend more, with almost a third expecting to pay the same, and just one-tenth set to spend less.

This is thought to be in response to a number of structural challenges facing the industry, such as managing legacy products on inefficient IT systems and tight regulatory oversight.

“To overcome these challenges, the industry has become more dependent upon external consultants in recent years,” Barnett Waddingham partner, Scott Eason, said.

“Actuarial consultants are being brought in to do the heavy lifting and provide expert input on the projects that proliferate across technology, product and risk areas.”

The research involved a survey of 100 leading figures across 45 life insurance companies, finding that 54% are changing or have changed actuarial consultants recently.

Although risk management should remain almost unchanged in terms of firms’ overall proportion of spending, it was found that other technical areas could see a surge in demand.

The survey found that data management and analytics skills are expected to rise rapidly to the second most in demand areas for insurance companies over the next three years.

Cost saving was cited as the number one reason for companies engaging with consultants, with 63% of the respondents ranking cost as the highest-ranking indicator of value.

However, Eason said that the findings indicate there may be inherent weaknesses in the procurement process that prevent insurers seeking the best outcomes.

“An increased focus on cost and brand is deflecting the search away from factors based on skills, delivery, cultural fit, location and experience of the client or the sector,” he said.

“This is likely to deliver poor value for the insurance company – the search for value for money must be balanced with the need for best fit and a focus on cost may be preventing this.”

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New York gets more worker-friendly

Last week, Suffolk County became the latest jurisdiction in New York State to pass a so-called salary history ban law.

The county joins New York City, Westchester, Albany and other municipalities in the state in prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their prior salary.

The intent of the salary history ban law, which takes effect in Suffolk on June 30, 2019, is to reduce pay inequality for women and minorities, and it is part of a larger trend on the state and local levels to increase workplace protections for employees.

“There have been several new laws passed in the state, and more so in New York City, over the last year or so that create added challenges for employers,” said Tony Dulgerian, a senior associate in the labor and employment practice group in the Jericho office of national law firm Nixon Peabody.

New laws come with compliance requirements and added costs, which “can be very challenging for small employers,” said Gregg Kligman, an associate in the employment law practice at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein in Garden City.

New York State passed a new law in April requiring all employers who operate in the state to have a sexual harassment prevention policy in place by this past October and to conduct annual, interactive training of all employees. All workers in the state must be trained by Oct. 9, 2019, and by April 1, 2019 in New York City.

“The training has to be interactive, and that’s the key,” Dulgerian said. “In-person training is the best option, but for employers with a scattered workforce or tens of thousands of employees, it’s hard to do it in-person.”

Paid family leave took effect in New York State this year, and it will be stepped up in 2019. Employers were required at the start of this year to ensure that all eligible employees have paid family leave coverage, which is set up through an insurance policy and financed through employee payroll deductions.

In its inaugural year, eligible employees were entitled to eight weeks of leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage or 50 percent of the state’s average wage, whichever was lower. In 2019, the coverage increases to 10 weeks at 55 percent of pay, with a cap of $746.41. The maximum employee contribution for the year is $107.61.

With paid family leave, employees can take leave for bonding with a new child, whether biological, adopted or foster; caring for a sick family member, which could be a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, spouse or domestic partner; or spending time with a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent on active military duty or who has been notified of an impending call or order of active duty.

Many employers continue to have questions about the interplay between paid family leave and benefits on the federal level.

“PFL interacts with the Family Medical Leave Act, short-term disability benefits, employee vacation and sick time, and if the company has its own paid parental leave policy, it interacts with that,” Dulgerian told LIBN earlier this year. “It’s like a gigantic Venn diagram. Everything has to work together, and it has been really challenging for clients.”

Both FMLA and PFL require that the employee’s job (or an equivalent one) be guaranteed upon his or her return, but there are important differences between the two. Unlike PFL, FMLA is unpaid. Also unlike PFL, FMLA allows for leave for the individual’s own health issue, but not to care for grandparents, grandchildren or domestic partners. And PFL covers all private-sector employers regardless of size while FMLA only applies to larger employers (there must be 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the office).

Many Long Island employers are not large enough to be impacted by FMLA and therefore have no experience dealing with protective leave. And employers with small teams may struggle disproportionately if they have to keep a job open for an extended period.

“Larger employers generally have the capacity to handle it,” Dulgerian said. “But employers have to figure it out. There’s no exception for undue burden under the PFL. Employers would be well-advised to prepare for it, such as having a temporary staffing firm at the ready. You don’t really know when you will receive a request for leave. A lot of people think it’s only for new parents, but it could be taken for many reasons, such as to care for a family member who is seriously ill or if a family member is about to go to the military.”

Dulgerian added that there is pending legislation to add bereavement as a reason for taking PFL.

The minimum wage will go up again this January, “and that has a whole bunch of issues associated with it,” Kligman said.

Large employers in New York City will have to pay workers at least $15 per hour, while their smaller counterparts will have to pay a $13.50 hourly minimum. Employers in Long Island and Westchester will have to cough up at least $12 per hour, up from $11 in 2018, and elsewhere in New York State, the minimum wage rises to $11.10 per hour.

While employees who make slightly above the minimum wage may expect an increase, as well, “that’s up to the employer’s discretion,” Kligman said.

The minimum salary for employees to be classified as exempt from overtime will also go up at the start of the year, Kligman said. In New York City, the minimum will be $1,125 per week for large employers and $1,012.50 for small employers, while the minimum on Long Island will rise from $825 to $900 per week. Employees whose earnings fall below that threshold must be eligible for overtime pay, regardless of their job description or responsibilities.

On the federal level, the complex web of laws governing the employer-employee relationship became more worker-friendly during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. When the administration changed, the pendulum began to swing back in the other direction – in favor of employers. For instance, several worker-friendly National Labor Relations Board decisions from the Obama years have been overturned.

But as a new president can’t change all the policies and laws right off the bat, “the pendulum swings slowly on the federal level,” Dulgerian said.

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Accountancy firm celebrates 12 deals of Christmas

The East Midlands office of accountancy firm Mazars says it has advised on 12 deals in the run up to Christmas.

The team says it is seeing resilience across the board at entrepreneurial business, acquisitive corporates, banks and private equity investors, despite economic uncertainty.

Mazars Deal Advisory has hired Tom Boss and Jacob Staten in a move which it says reflects the “sustained demand for high quality business advice” in both M&A and due diligence.

The sale of £20m turnover Premier Workplace Services to Hong Kong-based Crown Worldwide took Mazars’ deal completion tally over the last three months to twelve.

Paul Pownall – M&A senior manager – said “Whilst it’s impossible to avoid the ‘B-word’ in the press, the sentiment towards doing deals remains positive, as businesses seek to capitalise on the economic environment.”

Mazars Deal Advisory partner Julian Clough, said “Activity levels are strong; acquisitive corporates have been particularly busy as opportunities emerge to consolidate in fast moving markets. We see this as a continuing trend and feel well positioned to advise clients – new and old – moving into 2019.”

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More than 30 new Tennessee laws set to take effect in 2019

More than 30 new laws in Tennessee are set to go into effect next year with most beginning on New Year’s Day.

One of the laws talks about immigration, specifically sanctuary policies. Starting January 1, state and local governments will not be allowed to adopt sanctuary policies or any similar measures.

Another new law deals with abortions. At the start of the year, ultrasounds will be required prior to getting an abortion. The person giving the ultrasound will also offer opportunities to learn the results.

That will be required if a heartbeat was detected.

Next year will also see an increase to the minimum property damage threshold for motor vehicle accidents to require a written report with the department of safety.

The threshold increased $400 to a $1,500. It’s a hundred dollars more if cases include local or state government property.

A new law will connect Tennessee to the Interstate Medical License Compact, a nationwide streamlined process for physician licensing. This will help give people more access to patient care.

The compact makes it easier to license across state lines without federal regulations. Over 20 states are part of the compact.