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Nasdaq to buy Canada's Verafin for US$2.75-billion – The Globe and Mail

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Nasdaq Inc. is buying Newfoundland and Labrador-based fraud detection company Verafin for US$2.75-billion in a deal that will see the company’s head office remain in St. John’s while expanding the reach of its software to banks around the world.

Verafin sells cloud-based fraud detection and anti-money laundering software to financial institutions across North America, with a focus on small and mid-sized banks and credit unions. The company was founded in 2003 by a trio of entrepreneurs – Jamie King, Raymond Pretty and Brendan Brothers – and now serves more than 2,000 customers in Canada and the United States.

Verafin will become a key part of Nasdaq’s fraud detection infrastructure, and the U.S. exchange operator intends to introduce Verafin technology to larger Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks as well as to banking customers across Europe. It said that Verafin’s products will be available to nearly 250 banks, exchanges, brokers and regulators that currently use Nasdaq services.

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“Financial crime, including money laundering, is among the biggest and most difficult challenges that banks face around the world,” Nasdaq chief executive Adena Friedman said on an investor call Thursday morning.

“Regulators are being more demanding of banks, brokerages, fintechs and other financial intermediaries as a frontline defence against criminals using the financial system to fund their illicit activities. As a result, financial firms are faced with an ever increasing investment in people and technology to address this dynamic problem,” she said.

Nasdaq is financing the deal with a combination of debt and cash on hand. The high purchase price, at 19.5 times Verafin’s expected 2021 revenue, reflects the company’s rapid expansion, with a compound annual revenue growth of approximately 30 per cent over the past three years. Nasdaq expects Verafin to deliver more than US$140-million in revenue in 2021.

Nasdaq has committed to keeping Verafin’s headquarters in St. John’s – a major win for a city and a province struggling with high unemployment and low oil prices.

In a news release, Nasdaq said that it will work with Memorial University “to grow its scholarship program at the University, enhance its co-op programs, and fund and supervise at least six Mitacs fellowships annually for masters and PhD students.” It will also invest US$1-million in an R&D partnership with the Genesis Centre, a local innovation hub.

Nasdaq’s financial advisors included Evercore, BofA Securities, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, Morgan Stanley and TD Securities, while it received legal advice from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. Verafin was advised by William Blair & Company and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

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Nova Scotia reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the province’s total active cases to 114.

Twelve of the new cases are in the central health zone, with one case each in the northern and western zones.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 2,253 tests Wednesday.

An additional 856 tests were administered Wednesday at a rapid-testing pop-up in downtown Halifax with five positive results. Those people were directed to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.

In recent weeks, a small number of Nova Scotia Health employees have tested positive for COVID-19, spokesperson Brendan Elliot said in an email.

Elliot said it’s fewer than five people across the province, but declined to be more specific citing privacy reasons. All employees who test positive are required to immediate self-isolate away from the workplace.

Rapid testing coming to long-term care

The province has a large supply of rapid testing kits and the plan is to make them available in nursing homes so staff can be regularly tested.

“We know that the asymptomatic carrier was the problem in the first wave. Nursing home staff, if sick, would stay at home, but asymptomatic [people] can bring it in,” Leo Glavine, the province’s health minister, said Thursday.

Although he would like to see dedicated staff in each care home to minimize exposure, Glavine could not say whether some workers would need to move between more than one facility.

New restrictions in effect

New restrictions came into effect Thursday in most of the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County.

The restrictions include stopping dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closing gyms, libraries, museums and casinos for at least the next two weeks. Masks are also mandatory in common areas of multi-unit dwellings like apartments and condos.

A list of what’s open and closed in the Halifax region can be found here.

Across the province, visitations to long-term care facilities are no longer allowed unless the person is a volunteer or designated caregiver.

All other Atlantic provinces, most recently New Brunswick, have brought back mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers. But as of Thursday evening, Nova Scotia’s policy on regional travel remained unchanged.

“We respect the decision of New Brunswick. At this time, Nova Scotia is focused on the new measures that came into effect [Thursday], including the strong recommendation from Public Health to avoid non-essential travel,” provincial spokesperson Marla MacInnis said in an email.

COVID cases in the Atlantic provinces

The latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

Symptoms

Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.

Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811:

  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.
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CDC may shorten coronavirus quarantine guidelines: WSJ – Yahoo Finance

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Dr. Jennifer Cowart, internal medicine physician, discuss rising U.S. coronavirus cases.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The US is recording the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus since May. Continues to average close to 200,000 new cases a day. Why is the CDC thinking about shortening the quarantine time?

JENNIFER COWART: Yes, thank you. I think it’s a really good question. Looking at it, they’re looking at the evidence that most people who become positive after an exposure to COVID-19 become positive within that seven to 10-day window or before then. So it doesn’t mean that you may not have some folks who become positive on the later end of the 10 to 14-day window, but the vast majority are going to become positive earlier in that time frame, which is one reason they’re considering shortening the timeframe.

Looks like they’re also going to recommend that there be a negative test associated with that shorter quarantine. They’re looking at it also from a pragmatic perspective because 14 days of quarantine is really difficult for many people to adhere to for a variety of reasons. They’re trying to work and go to school and do other things. So I believe they’re looking at it in the sense of, we can maintain a high degree of safety and potentially even a higher degree of adherence with quarantining with a little bit shorter quarantine, still catch the majority of cases, and encourage a negative test in that– to try to keep things as safe as they can be.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that you’re working at a hospital there in Jacksonville, Florida. I’m hearing reports from hospitals across the country and clinics that they’re struggling to get that PPE. What’s your situation in your hospital? And is that becoming a problem?

JENNIFER COWART: I’m really grateful that we’ve had good access to PPE through the course of this pandemic. But I know that’s not the situation in every hospital across the country. So in order to keep health care workers safe, we really do need to be sure that everybody has access to surgical masks, to N95 respirators for those high-risk encounters, gloves, gowns, face coverings or face shields or goggles. Because we do see evidence that covering the eyes, it reduces the risk of health care transmission further.

So I’m grateful that my hospital, we’ve had good access to PPE. But every hospital, every clinic needs to have that same access.

JENNIFER COWART: You know, US officials planning to release 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide. And its first distribution, of course, would be to frontline workers like yourself and to people who are at high risk, namely the elderly. Do you think the CDC is doing enough to prepare people for the possible side effects of these vaccines?

JENNIFER COWART: It’s a great question because it does look like this is a vaccine that, the Pfizer and Moderna versions, that produce a vigorous immune response. And so I think folks should be prepared to feel the effects of this vaccine. Not everybody will, and that does not mean the vaccine is not working. But in many patients, they will get two doses of the vaccine, and either or both doses may produce a day of feeling some mild flu-like symptoms, some headaches, some aches and pains and shells. And folks should be prepared for that.

I think it’s a positive thing because I’d rather have one day of feeling achy compared to two weeks of illness and the risk of passing it on to my friends, family, and co-workers. But I agree I would love to see all of us, myself included, getting that message out there that this vaccine may produce a vigorous response. You may not feel well for a day or so. Still, very crucial to take that second dose of vaccine because you need both doses to get the full effect of this vaccine.

JENNIFER COWART: That’s, I think, the worry, right, that you would get the first dose, you would have these side effects, you would get concerned about that and not go back for the second dose. What would that do if a large enough amount of people decided to forego the second dose?

JENNIFER COWART: Right. And I think the vaccine has tested and known to be effective with both doses. So I think the risk would be that folks would be in completely protected if they get one dose and not the second dose. So I think we need to be very clear in saying, from the vaccine trials, the experience is that both doses are needed and that you can have a response, that you may not feel great for a day, that you need to take some acetaminophen or some ibuprofen, maybe take the day off of work if you need to.

But it’s better to have one day of feeling achy after the vaccine, means you’re getting a good robust response. And then you need to do both times to get that in order to have that full protection. And that’s the best way to keep the COVID-19 from continuing to spread, devastating our communities, working on our economy in negative ways. The best way to keep us all safe and back to work is both doses. And it may make you feel not great for a day, but it’s still better than getting COVID-19.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And real quickly, doctor, your advice to people who are going to be seeing family over this Thanksgiving.

JENNIFER COWART: Absolutely. So I think of everything in terms of risk and benefit and harm reduction. So if you need to travel, if you need to see your family, ways to keep it safer would be limit the size of your gathering, so not very many people in a room, eat outside if you’re able to, if the weather is nice, go outdoors, have your Thanksgiving meal outside where folks can take their masks off for a moment to eat and eat outside. Third, as I just mentioned, masks.

I know it may not feel comfortable to have masks on around our family members, but that’s the best way that if you need to have a gathering, keep it small, wear your masks, and be outdoors as much as possible. If you do decide to get a COVID test before your trip, I think that’s a great way to show that if you have a negative test, maybe your risk right this second is lower. But do not take that negative test as a license to think, great, I’ll take my mask off, and I’ll have a massive gathering of 50 people where we all share the mashed potatoes.

The way to use that test is if you take that test and it’s positive, you cancel your trip. You don’t go meet with family if you have a positive test. If you have a negative test, it means you’re still going to wear your mask, you’re going to limit the size of your gathering, and you’re going to go outside as much as possible.

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BMO, CIBC extend work from home to April as Canada cases surge – BNN

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Signage is displayed outside the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in the financial district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Canadian stocks declined with global markets, as authorities struggled to keep the coronavirus from spreading more widely outside China. However, investors flocking to safe havens such as gold offset the sell-off in Canada's stock market.

A recent surge in COVID-19 cases is derailing Canadian banks’ plans to bring employees back to offices, with one lender even asking some workers who had already returned to go back home.

Canada is now facing about 5,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, prompting provinces and cities including Toronto — home to the country’s five biggest banks — to implement new restrictions to limit the virus spread. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently returned to working from home in an attempt to set a national tone of caution.

Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are extending work-from-home plans for some employees until at least April. Toronto-Dominion Bank hasn’t set a firm date for a return, but said in a memo last week that most people working from home won’t come back “until at least the spring.”

Royal Bank of Canada even encouraged employees who had gone back to offices to return to working from home as of Nov. 16, according to a memo from Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Gottschling. Canada’s second-largest lender by assets said it will continue pre-screening and requiring masks and distancing for those who can’t work remotely.

“For those in critical roles that cannot be done from home and who are working on premises today, please continue to work on site,” Gottschling said in the Nov. 12 memo. “Our ongoing protocols will continue to protect employees’ health and safety in the workplace.”

The bank hasn’t set a firm time for employees to return. Royal Bank also delayed plans to have employees retrieve personal items from work sites in and around Toronto until further notice.

Bank of Nova Scotia also hasn’t set a specific time for office employees to return because of “uncertainty around how the COVID-19 pandemic will unfold in the coming months,” according to a spokesman. Canada’s third-biggest bank said workers will receive at least four weeks notice before being asked to return.

Bank of Montreal doesn’t “foresee any broad-based changes for employees who are currently working from home any sooner than April 2021, unless a specific business need exists,” the company said in an emailed statement. The country’s fourth-largest lender previously said workers would remain out of the office until the end of this year. The bank will give employees 30 days notice before asking them to return.

Most CIBC employees who are already working off-site will continue to do so until at least April, Sandy Sharman, the executive who oversees human resources, said Wednesday in a memo to staff. The bank originally advised employees they’d be working from home until at least the end of the year.

CIBC, Canada’s fifth-largest lender, said it will give workers at least four-weeks’ notice before asking them back, Sharman said in the memo. The bank had planned to start relocating employees to its freshly built new headquarters at CIBC Square by the end of the year.

“With the majority of our team members working from home seamlessly, we have the flexibility to align our decisions and timing around our long-term real estate plans, including CIBC Square, and the guidance we receive from local governments and public health authorities,” she said.

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