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Amazon bringing cloud computing hub to Calgary with $4 billion investment – Calgary Herald

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In what Premier Jason Kenney is calling the largest tech investment in Alberta’s history, Amazon officials confirmed Monday they’re investing $4.3 billion in a cloud computing hub in Calgary.

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The move, which will ultimately create 950 full-time jobs across Canada, is only Amazon Web Services (AWS) second such data region in the country, complementing one established in Montreal in 2016.

Kenney, whose UCP government has come under intense fire from critics both inside and outside its ranks for its handling of a number of issues and is struggling in opinion polls, called the announcement an economic watershed for Alberta and a vindication of his party’s economic strategy.

“This is a game-changer and the largest technology investment in Alberta’s history,” Kenney told a Calgary press conference.

“For anybody who thought that all of the great news in the Alberta tech and innovation sector was just a temporary flash in the pan, this is for real, this is big.”

Of those new jobs, 837 of them should be created by 2037, said Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer.

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The Seattle-based company said the hub, with separate locations for each data centre, will allow customers to access a variety of cloud-computing products in Canada. This also means companies with data residency requirements will have the ability to store such information within the country.

Initial ground-breaking work has already begun on one of the local data centres expected to be built locally. Senior AWS officials expect the new region in Western Canada to launch in late 2023 or early 2024.

The company’s offerings already serve local tech firms like Benevity and Kidoodle.TV and the Alberta Motor Association, and will build on those partnerships, said AWS Canada general manager Eric Gales.

“We have tens of thousands of customers in Canada, many of whom are here in Alberta,” said Gales.

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“This new region will join 25 other regions around the world for AWS.”

He said the company will be investing $21 billion in Canada by 2037 while reaching a 100 per cent renewable energy capacity by 2025.

AWS is also partnering with Mount Royal University to offer free training to candidates for entry-level positions to add to the 100,000 Canadians trained by the company since 2013, said Rejean Bourgault, AWS Canada’s country leader.

“This is all part of a new age in the Alberta economy … it will help to provide folks who are unemployed or underemployed the ability to gain the key skills they need,” said Kenney

An executive of one Calgary-based tech start-up said AWS has already been instrumental in the progress of his company.

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“It was from the support of AWS that we grew into the company we are today,” said Daniel Riddell of Kidoodle TV.

“It’s important that companies embrace technology, embrace the cloud and embrace change.”

Following on Alberta’s best year in attracting tech investment — 2020, with $450 million — the AWS announcement shows the province is gaining the critical mass needed for a decisive economic transformation, said Kenney.

Alberta’s younger, highly-educated workforce, a low corporate tax regime, cheaper cost of living and attractive lifestyle were vital in attracting the data hub, said the premier.

The move comes four years after Calgary Economic Development made an unsuccessful pitch to Amazon to locate its second corporate headquarters in the city.

But the online retail behemoth did open a distribution centre just north of the city limits that same year.

Amazon employs nearly 40,000 people in Canada.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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Big Six banks expand investment offerings – Wealth Professional

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“ZMMK provides a solution for investors looking for a liquidity sleeve, or a place to hold their cash as they assess the market for other investments,” Mark Raes, head of Product at BMO Global Asset Management, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, CIBC has again expanded its lineup of Canadian Depositary Receipts (CDRs), which offer an affordable way to invest in some of the world’s largest companies with a built-in notional currency hedge, with eight new listings on the NEO Exchange.

The new CDRs include:

  • Advanced Micro Devices Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – AMD
  • Berkshire Hathaway Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – BRK (underlying shares Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class B Common Stock (NYSE: BRK.B))
  • Costco Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – COST
  • Salesforce.com Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – CRM
  • IBM Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – IBM
  • JPMorgan Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – JPM
  • Mastercard Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – MA
  • Pfizer Canadian Depositary Receipts (CAD Hedged) – PFE

They join 10 other CDRs that were launched on NEO in July and October. According to NEO, the average number of client trades in CDRs grew from around 700 per day in September to roughly 5,500 since the start of November. The CDRs on the exchange have also continued to track their underlying stocks precisely even during highly volatile periods.

“We are pleased with the reception we’ve seen so far for CDRs with Canadian investors. It’s clear this meets a need in the market,” said Elliott Scherer, managing director and head of Sales, Wealth Solutions Group, CIBC Capital Markets. “This expansion of our CDR offering provides greater opportunity for investors to diversify their portfolio without being exposed to currency risk at a fraction of the price per share.”

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TSX rallies as dividend increases help underpin financial shares

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Canada‘s main stock index rebounded on Thursday from a seven-week low hit in the previous session, with financials contributing to broad-based gains as major lenders boosted their dividends.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 297.43 points, or 1.45%, at 20,762.03, after posting on Wednesday its lowest close since Oct. 12.

Wall Street also rallied as market participants snapped up bargains while digesting the implications of a shifting pandemic. The Omicron variant has spooked investors for about a week.

“The market is awaiting confirmation on the severity of the new COVID-19 variant, the degree to which it escapes existing vaccines, and how infectious it is given this will likely dictate the global response in terms of restrictions,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Financials, which account for about 30% of the Toronto market’s value, gained 2.2%. Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce joined rivals in announcing higher dividends and share repurchases.

TD rose 4.9%, while CIBC ended down 2.8% after missing profit estimates as costs climbed.

All 11 major sectors ended higher.

The energy sector advanced 1.8% as oil prices rebounded after OPEC+ stuck to its policy of incrementally boosting output. U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.4% higher at $66.50 a barrel.

Consumer cyclical stocks gained 2.4%, helped by gains for Restaurant Brands International Inc and Magna International Inc.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will outline limited new spending in a fiscal update to be released later this month, a source said, as inflation soars and some business groups and opposition politicians call for restraint.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Metaverse won’t be turning point in cryptocurrency adoption, investor Chesnais says

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The growth of online virtual worlds will help advance the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies for payment transactions but it won’t be a game-changer, according to Frédéric Chesnais, chief executive of French fintech company Crypto Blockchain Industries.

In blockchain-based 3D virtual worlds, often referred to as metaverses, users can purchase and trade virtual assets and services using cryptocurrencies. Some analysts have argued the growing popularity of metaverses will drive an explosion in digital tokens.

“I think it will be important but I don’t think this is the key turning point,” Chesnais, who was until earlier this year the CEO of videogame company Atari told a Reuters NEXT panel on Thursday.

Interest in the metaverse exploded after Facebook said in October it was changing its name to Meta and would be focusing on building its own virtual world. Other big companies and smaller fintechs are also rushing to develop digital worlds.

Crypto Blockchain Industries invests in blockchain projects and is developing AlphaVerse, a blockchain-based metaverse.

Chesnais said that the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies will be driven by the more than one billion people globally who do not have access to a bank account because they may not have an address or an official identity.

“The only way for these people to have access to a better way of life and be part of the economic system is to have a wallet and to be paid in cryptocurrency,” he said.

“This is the most important moment for crypto.”

On Wednesday, Yat Siu, the chairman and co-founder Animoca Brands — which invests in and builds various virtual worlds — cautioned that while digital assets are set to grow as virtual worlds become more popular, investors in these technologies will face “bumps in the road” as the technologies mature.

 

 

(Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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