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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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CPPIB posts 2.3-per-cent return in second quarter

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CEO Mark Machin walks through the CPPIB office in Toronto in this file photo.

By Mark Blinch

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board posted a 2.3-per-cent return in the quarter ended Sept. 30, helping it maintain double-digit long-term returns and add nearly $10-billion to its total assets.

CPPIB, the investment manager for the Canada Pension Plan, said its five-year and 10-year returns through Sept. 30 averaged 10.3 and 10.2 per cent over the period, and it closed the quarter with assets of $409.5-billion.

CPPIB posts 2.3-per-cent return in second quarter

CPPIB didn’t break out returns by asset class, but said the group that actively manages its equity investments, as well as its private-equities division, were “strong contributors.” The Active Equities department picks specific stocks with an aim to outperforming the market, while private equity is the ownership of private companies, often aided by substantial borrowing.

It received “modest gains” from its passive portfolio, a style of investing designed to match the overall market. CPPIB also said it had positive performance in other asset classes, including its bonds, aided by declining interest rates.

A little less than one-third of the fund’s assets are in stocks traded on the public markets. A quarter of the portfolio is private equity.

All return percentages are net of costs, CPPIB said. Because the CPP must serve plan members for decades to come, CPPIB says long-term results “are a more appropriate measure of CPPIB’s investment performance compared to quarterly or annual cycles.”

Canada Pension Plan, founded in 1966, is the primary retirement-security program for working Canadians. The government created CPPIB in 1999 to professionally manage the Plan’s money. The past two decades have seen a shift first from bonds to stocks, then to assets like real estate, infrastructure and private equity. The government projects the CPP Fund will grow to $545-billion in assets by 2025 and $1.5-trillion in assets by 2040.

Major deals in the quarter included buying publicly traded Pattern Energy Group Inc. for US$2.3-billion in cash, valuing the company at US$6.1-billion, including debt. It also struck a deal to merge data-information provider Refinitiv into the London Stock Exchange, valuing Refinitiv at US$27-billion.

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Trade mission seeks to calm concerns about forestry downturn

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Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says he’s in Asia trying to calm investor concerns about reduced supplies of British Columbia timber for major residential developments and tourism-resort projects in China and Japan.

Donaldson, in a teleconference from Tokyo, says he and 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations are on a five-day trade mission to Asia that concludes Friday.

He says the Chinese and Japanese are keenly aware of the toll pine beetle infestations and massive wildfires have taken on B.C.’s forests, but business leaders and forests ministry officials are reassuring potential customers the province has abundant supplies of timber.

The Opposition Liberals recently released a document detailing ongoing forest industry struggles, listing almost 60 examples where companies have implemented cost-cutting measures that range from harvest reductions to permanent mill closures.

The detention of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada prompted the minister to postpone his planned participation on a forestry trade mission to China last December.

Donaldson says this week’s trade talks in Japan and China focused only on business.

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Union representing SkyTrain workers considers possible strike action

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SkyTrain in Vancouver/Shutterstock

CUPE Local 7000, the union representing 900 SkyTrain workers, says negotiations with the BC Rapid Transit Company (SkyTrain) have reached a deadlock.

CUPE Local 7000 says that there have been more than 40 sessions at the bargaining table since the beginning of May, and that talks broke down Tuesday, Nov. 12. It says that both sides were unable to reach an agreement on several key issues.

“The Company has failed to offer fair wages or address the sick plan, inadequate staffing levels, forced overtime, and other issues important to our members,” said CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo.

“We have been more than proactive and flexible in trying to reach solutions to improve the service, but the employer’s latest package failed to address the key issues. They are simply not interested in bargaining seriously, so we’re left with little choice but to go to our members and seek direction for next steps.”

CUPE 7000 represents approximately 900 SkyTrain workers who provide service as SkyTrain attendants and control operators as well as administration, maintenance, and technical staff.

Vancouver Is Awesome reached out to TransLink for comment and will update the story when they have provided comment.

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