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Brookfield buying controlling stake in Genworth MI Canada

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Genworth Financial Inc. (GNW.N) agreed to sell its Canadian unit to Brookfield Business Partners LP (BBU.N) for $2.4 billion as it works to win regulatory approval for its acquisition by China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co.

Brookfield Business Partners will purchase 48.9 million shares, or a 57 per cent stake, at $48.86 apiece in Genworth MI Canada Inc., giving it majority control of Canada’s largest private-sector residential mortgage insurer. That’s a 5.1 per cent discount to Genworth MI’s closing price Monday.

Genworth Financial is looking to “ultimately, moving forward with our long-awaited closing of our merger with Oceanwide,” Chief Executive Officer Tom McInerney said in a statement Tuesday. Oceanwide’s chairman Lu Zhiqiang said the company is “pleased with the quality of the buyer as well as the purchase price they have offered.”

Shares of Genworth Financial jumped as much as 16 per cent in U.S. trading Tuesday, while Genworth MI Canada traded ex-dividend in Toronto and fell slightly.

Genworth has been working since 2016 to close its US$2.7 billion buyout by China Oceanwide, a transaction McInerney called the “best option” as the Richmond-based insurer grappled with soaring costs on long-term care policies. The insurer said in July that it would seek to gauge interest in the Canadian mortgage insurance unit after lack of “any substantive progress” on talks with regulators in that country for the China Oceanwide deal.

Brookfield plans to fund about US$700 million of the purchase on its own and for some of its institutional partners to co-invest alongside it for the rest. Brookfield agreed to provide an US$850 million bridge loan to back the transaction, which is expected to close in the second half of the year. The deal is subject to approval from Canada’s minister of finance.

BFIN Securities LP, BMO Capital Markets, CIBC Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets, and Scotiabank were among financial advisers to Brookfield Business Partners. Goldman Sachs and Lazard Freres & Co. are acting as financial advisers to Genworth.

Deadline Extended

Genworth and Oceanwide have agreed to extend their merger deadline until Dec. 31.

“Genworth is an industry-leading business that generates strong, consistent earnings and operates in a sector with high barriers to entry,” David Nowak, managing partner, Brookfield Business Partners, said in the statement

The Genworth deal with Oceanwide has been approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., but is pending a decision from Canadian authorities. It also still needs clearance in China for currency conversion, according to the statement Tuesday.

The sale of the Canadian subsidiary comes at a sensitive time for Canadian-Chinese relations. The government is currently studying whether to ban Huawei Technologies Co. from its 5G networks. U.S. charges late last year against the Chinese telco saw its chief financial officer detained in Vancouver at the request of the U.S. Since then, Beijing has detained two Canadians, halted imports of canola and is now turning away meat shipments from Canada.

Analyst Views

National Bank

The sale of the remaining 43 per cent interest isn’t entirely off the table. Deal sets near term floor for shares of Genworth MI Canada

Credit Suisse

Brookfield’s step into the Canadian residential mortgage insurance business is a little unexpected. The preliminary economics of Genworth MI Canada’s business is “quite attractive.”

BTIG

The deal should alleviate any near-term concerns about Genworth Financial’s holding company liquidity.

Home Sales

Genworth MI Canada competes with Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co. in providing mortgage insurance, alongside the federal government’s Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. In Canada, homebuyers with less than a 20 per cent downpayment are required to get their mortgage insured through one of the three companies.

Alternative lenders have been reaping the benefits of Canada’s tighter mortgage regulations as homebuyers seek financing outside of the big banks in wake of new rules imposed last year. And home prices in big cities have remained lofty. Sales in the city of Toronto have been rebounding all summer from a slump earlier this year as housing supply remains limited, driving prices higher for most segments.

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Retired British Columbia fisherman wins $60-million lottery jackpot

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RICHMOND, B.C. — A retired fisherman from Richmond, B.C., has reeled in the catch of a lifetime — a $60-million lottery haul.

The B.C. Lottery Corp. says Joseph Katalinic matched all seven numbers in last month’s Lotto Max draw to win the largest lottery prize in the province’s history.

It says in a release there have previously been three $50-million winners in the province.

Katalinic retired as a commercial fisherman 20 years ago and told the lottery corporation he now plans to “live like a king.”

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U.S. central bank was split on rate cut decision

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Federal Reserve officials were widely divided at their meeting last month when they decided to cut rates for the first time in a decade, with some arguing for a bigger rate cut while others insisted the Fed should not cut rates at all.

The minutes of the July 30-31 discussions released Wednesday show two officials believed the Fed should cut its benchmark policy rate by a half-percentage point, double the quarter-point reduction the central bank eventually agreed upon. On the other end, some Fed officials argued for no rate cut at all, believing that the economy was beginning to improve after a soft patch in the spring.

The minutes did not indicate any consensus on the pace of future cuts.

Financial markets have been turbulent since the July 31 rate cut, diving 800 points one day last week on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as bad news has piled up in terms of the slowing global economy and the latest developments in President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.

Because of these developments, investors have become convinced the central bank will follow up the July rate cut with further cuts at coming meetings. But private economists are not so sure, believing the Fed may want to save some of its rate cut ammunition should the economy take a serious turn for the worse with the possibility of a recession.

The minutes provided little clarity on what the future course for rates will be, but markets are hoping that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell may send a stronger signal about future rate hikes when he delivers the keynote address at the Fed’s annual policy conference at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.

“There is little sign that the Fed is willing to push back on the markets,” said Michael Pearce, senior economist at Capital Economics. “As such, another (quarter-point) cut in September still looks like a good bet, if only because the Fed will not want to disappoint lofty market expectations.”

The two Fed officials who argued for a bigger rate cut “favoured a stronger action to better address the stubbornly low inflation rates of the past several years,” the minutes said.

The July action was approved on an 8-2 vote with Esther George, president of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank, and Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed, dissenting and arguing that they favoured no rate cut at all.

The minutes said the majority view supported a quarter-point cut, viewing it as a “mid-cycle adjustment,” a phrase Powell used in his press conference that caused an adverse market reaction by investors hoping the July cut will be the first in a series of rate reductions.

The minutes highlighted three main reasons for the cut, including recent signs of deceleration of the economy and concerns about persistently low inflation. Officials also believed a rate cut would be a “prudent step from a risk-management perspective.”

The minutes said the Fed was worried about a slowdown in business investment and the global headwinds that are affecting Europe, Japan and other regions.

“Participants were mindful that trade tensions were far from settled and that trade uncertainties could intensify again,” the minutes said.

On Aug. 1, the day after the Fed’s rate cut, Trump announced that he would impose 10 per cent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports in an effort to force the Chinese to make more trade concessions at the bargaining table. Since that announcement, Trump has said he would postpone about half of those tariffs until Dec. 15 to avoid hurting American consumers during the holiday shopping season.

But economists are warning that the tariffs already imposed will likely slow U.S. growth in coming quarters.

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RBC mixed third quarter; Pembina acquires Kinder Morgan Canada

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RBC’s mixed results set a cautiously optimistic tone as third-quarter earning season begins for Canadian banks: Royal Bank of Canada leaned on its retail-banking and wealth-management divisions to boost third-quarter profit and overcome a weak spell in capital markets, setting a cautiously optimistic tone as earnings season for Canada’s big banks begins. Canada’s largest bank by assets is the first major lender to report fiscal third-quarter results, and its performance was mixed. Story (James Bradshaw)

CEO of RBC Capital Markets announces retirement, discusses outlook for division: On Doug McGregor’s 11-year watch as chief executive, RBC Capital Markets grew from a regional player into a leading global investment bank, navigating storms that swept away far larger institutions. Story (Andrew Willis)

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan first half results show move toward fixed income: Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan made a strong shift to bonds in the first half of the year and benefited from robust returns in fixed income. The pension plan said it posted an overall 6.3 per cent return in the first half of 2019 and closed the quarter with a portfolio of $198.5-billion. Fixed income led the returns, Teachers said. Story (David Milstead)

Manulife tripled CannTrust holdings before licence scandal, SEC records show: Manulife Asset Management jacked up its holdings of CannTrust Holdings Inc. stock in the second quarter – just in time for the company’s surprise disclosure that it was growing cannabis without a licence. Story (David Milstead)

Toronto fintech Drop sees $44-million in latest funding round: Royal Bank of Canada is backing an upstart loyalty-management program geared at millennials called Drop Technologies Inc. as part of a US$44-million venture-capital financing. Story (Sean Silcoff)

DEALS NEWS: MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS, IPOs and FINANCINGS

Pembina to acquire Kinder Morgan Canada and other assets in $4.35-billion deal: Pembina Pipeline Corp. is buying Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. and the U.S. portion of a key condensate pipeline for $4.35-billion, a deal that will bolster its position in the high-demand oil storage and transport business. For Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc., the sale marks its exit from Canada after it sold its largest asset – the Trans Mountain oil pipeline – to Ottawa last year for $4.4-billion. It follows a formal process to seek buyers for the majority-owned Canadian operation that ended in the spring after failing to attract acceptable proposals. Story

Alibaba postpones up to $15-billion Hong Kong listing amid protests: sources: China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has delayed its up to $15-billion listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Story (Reuters)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

For Canadian bank stocks, ‘the risk/reward equation is not stacking up attractively’: Merrill Lynch bank analyst Ebrahim Poonawala has turned more cautious on Canadian banks ahead of upcoming profit reports. Story (Scott Barlow)

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