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Harry and Meghan’s Canada move still needs to be worked out

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gesture during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, on January 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

WPA Pool

Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, might have won the approval of the queen to move to Canada, but the country’s prime minister said there are “still lots of discussions to have” over the plans.

Speaking to Canadian television network Global News on Monday, Justin Trudeau said there were still details to iron, both in the U.K. and Canada, including security costs.

“There are still a lot of decisions to be taken by the Royal Family, by the Sussexes themselves as to what level of engagement they choose to have,” Trudeau said. “We are obviously supportive of their reflections but have responsibilities in that as well.”

“We’re not entirely sure what the final decisions will be,” he added. Trudeau said the federal government had not been consulted about the move up until now and that the costs would have to be assessed.

“I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have,” Trudeau said. “There is a general feeling of appreciation for the Sussexes.”

Royal showdown

Trudeau’s comments came after a royal showdown Monday afternoon with senior royals gathered in the queen’s Norfolk estate, Sandringham, to discuss Meghan and Harry’s shock announcement last week that they were to step back from their positions as “senior royals.” The couple want to work to become financially independent and split their time between the U.K. and Canada.

Harry had face-to-face talks with the queen, Prince Charles and Prince William with Meghan reportedly joining the discussions by phone from Canada.

The queen, who was reportedly not consulted ahead of the announcement and was said to be disappointed by the decision, issued a statement in which she said a “period of transition” had been agreed with Harry and Meghan.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives,” the statement noted, adding: “It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K.”

Details over how the couple will achieve financial autonomy and who will foot the bill for their security retinue are still unclear. The queen ended her statement noting that there were “complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

The couple had spent Christmas on Vancouver Island and Meghan, who has previously lived in Canada, is now reportedly back in British Columbia with the couple’s son, Archie.

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FPIs pour in Rs 1,624 cr in Jan so far as US-China deal boosts sentiment

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Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) have infused a net sum of Rs 1,624 crore into the Indian capital markets in January so far, buoyed by the signing of the first phase of the US-China trade deal.


According to the latest depositories data, FPIs invested a net Rs 13,304 crore in equities and withdrew a net Rs 11,680 crore from the debt segment between January 1-24. This translates into a total net inflow of Rs 1,624 crore.



“After starting the year on a muted note, investments from FPIs has picked up pace and most of that flows came after US and China signed a trade deal putting the trade war between them on a pause,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior analyst manager research at Morningstar Investment Adviser India.


The latest investments came despite challenges such as enhanced geopolitical tension between the US and Iran and dwindling domestic economic growth, Srivastava noted.


On the domestic front, “there are some signs of India shaking away the slowdown with business activity picking up and this is reflecting in the investments coming into equities. Besides, after the limit to which FPIs can invest in debt instruments has been increased, more inflows into the debt category can be expected,” said Harsh Jain, co-founder and COO at Groww.


The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday raised the investment limit for FPIs in government and corporate bonds, a move that is likely to bring in more foreign funds in the country.


According to the current norms, short-term investments by an FPI should not exceed 20 per cent of the total investment of that FPI in either central government securities (including treasury bills) or state development loans.


The same norms are applicable on investments in corporate bonds.


The short-term investment limit has now been increased from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in both the cases, the RBI said in a circular.


Additionally, the RBI has also made relaxation in the voluntary retention route (VRR) for FPI investments in debt. The investment cap through VRR has been doubled to Rs 1.5 trillion, the RBI said in another circular.


Going forward, “all eyes will now be on the upcoming Budget to get further cues. This will play major role in terms of shaping up the investment views of foreign investors and decision to invest in the Indian equity markets,” Srivastava added.



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The Pharmacist Is Out: Supermarkets Close Pharmacy Counters

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In some towns, it’s getting harder to pick up your blood-pressure pills with that gallon of milk and rotisserie chicken.

Hundreds of regional grocery stores in cities from Minneapolis to Seattle are closing or selling pharmacy counters, which have been struggling as consumers make fewer trips to fill prescriptions and big drugstore chains tighten their grip on the U.S. market.

Grocery pharmacies are getting hit on several fronts, analysts and the companies say. They are too small to wrest competitive reimbursement rates on drugs, they aren’t connected to big medical networks or insurers, and they generally lack walk-in clinics and other health services that draw many customers to CVS and Walgreens locations.

“Our establishment had a community feel, it wasn’t overly busy so we got to really care for our customers,” said

Phillip Breker,

who managed a now-closed pharmacy at Lunds & Byerlys, a Minneapolis-area grocery chain. “I also saw the numbers in the back end and how that soured in the last 10 years. The company made the right decision.”

Grocery pharmacies are the latest casualty of industry consolidation that has for years been forcing mom-and-pop drugstores to close. Even some big players have rethought the market.

Target Corp.


TGT -1.05%

sold off its pharmacy business to

CVS Health Corp.


CVS -2.86%

five years ago.

Supermarkets have viewed pharmacies as a tool to draw shoppers in. Fueled by easy profits and relatively low startup costs, legions of stores added pharmacy counters in the 1980s and 1990s. Grocery drugstores proliferated to account for roughly 14% of retail pharmacy prescriptions, according to the National Association of Drug Stores.

The number of grocery pharmacies declined for the first time in years in 2017, the latest year for which data is available, to 9,026, down from 9,344 in 2016.

Consumers are increasingly getting 90-day supplies of their medicines or getting prescriptions delivered in the mail. Those trends are resulting in a decline in foot traffic to supermarket pharmacies, which were typically located at the back of stores. Meantime, profits are ever harder to come by as the health-care industry consolidates.

CVS and

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.,

the nation’s biggest players, contributed more than 40% of U.S. prescription revenues in 2018, according to Drug Channels Institute, which provides research on the drug supply chain.

The chains, which now either own or have partnerships with the biggest insurers and pharmacy-benefit managers, are able to secure better deals on drug costs that largely shut out the industry’s smaller players. Pharmacy-benefit managers serve insurers and other clients by choosing which medicines to cover and pushing for lower prices from drugmakers and sellers.

CVS and

Walgreens


WBA -2.36%

also are working to transform drugstores into health-care hubs, offering services from blood testing to chronic-disease management.

“The biggest companies in health care now have pharmacists and doctors, they own medical practices, and they own urgent-care clinics,” Baird analyst

Eric Coldwell

said. Grocery pharmacies “have none of this. They have a store to go into to buy lemons and bread.”

Kroger, one of the supermarket chains that still see pharmacies as a key element of their business, says pharmacy customers tend to spend more on groceries.


Photo:

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The tougher conditions come as the entire drugstore industry copes with a shift to online shopping and shrinking profits in prescription medicines, which often disproportionately affect smaller players.

Walgreens and CVS have closed or are closing more than 300 underperforming stores, while

Rite Aid Corp.,

the No. 3 U.S. chain, is struggling to turn itself around after regulators blocked a merger with Walgreens in 2017.

Raley’s Supermarkets, a West Sacramento, Calif., chain of about 120 stores, last year shut down a third of its roughly 100 pharmacies and transferred prescriptions to nearby Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid stores. Those grocery pharmacies had low prescription rates, were losing money and didn’t merit high operating and labor costs, according to Raley’s.

“There is the benefit of having a pharmacy relative to the grocery-sale lift and the convenience factor of having both in the store, but the economics do not work,” said

Keith Knopf,

chief executive of Raley’s.

Profitability for grocers has become harder to achieve in recent years, and pharmacies play a less important role today in attracting customers, Mr. Knopf said. Raley’s is cutting hours for the remaining pharmacies to improve profits and create efficiency. Pharmacies make up roughly 20% of Raley’s total sales.

Many grocers still view pharmacies as a key part of their business.

Kroger Co.,


KR -0.88%

the biggest U.S. supermarket chain, said its pharmacy business is expected to improve this year after lower-than-expected profits in 2019. Kroger has said pharmacy shoppers tend to be more loyal, spending three times as much as nonpharmacy customers.

“We’ve been able to connect the relationship with food and are starting to build out new revenue streams,” Kroger finance chief

Gary Millerchip

said at an investor meeting in November.

Lunds & Byerlys, the Minnesota chain, shut all 14 of its supermarket pharmacies last year. At each location, it posted a sign that has become increasingly common: “The pharmacy is now closed. Your prescription records have been transferred to Walgreens.”

Mr. Breker, the pharmacy manager, now works for Walgreens at a location in a nearby town. “I literally cried at the counter with dozens of people,” he said. “They felt a loss here.”

Write to Sharon Terlep at sharon.terlep@wsj.com and Jaewon Kang at jaewon.kang@wsj.com

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Iraqi security forces clash with hundreds of protesters in central Baghdad By Reuters

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi security forces firing teargas and live bullets clashed with hundreds of protesters in central Baghdad on Sunday, a Reuters witness and security sources said, following a push to clear out a sit-in camp in the heart of the capital.

At least 14 protesters were injured, the security and medical sources said.

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