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Anxiety in Alberta over $26-billion Shaw acquisition as Rogers promises jobs and investment – Financial Post



The deal signals the end of another storied Western Canadian company as a standalone business stalwart

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CALGARY – The proposed acquisition of Edmonton-founded, Calgary-headquartered telecommunications provider Shaw Communications Inc. by a Toronto behemoth is causing fresh anxiety in a province that has suffered from recessions and a steady exit of talent and companies over the past decade.

Toronto-based Rogers Communications Inc. announced Monday it would purchase Shaw for $26 billion, a value that includes the company’s debt, but promised to keep a Western head office and related team in Calgary, where the company has pledged to add jobs.

The deal is stirring up concerns in Calgary, which is home to the most corporate headquarters in Western Canada, and where the presence of local players such as Shaw and WestJet had previously been held up as proof that non-oil and gas sector companies can be built into large corporations in oil-rich Alberta. That pitch has eroded in recent years. In 2019, Toronto-based Onex Corp. took WestJet private in a $5.4-billion deal, and the latest deal with Rogers signals the end of another storied Western Canadian company as a standalone business stalwart.


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“We would prefer that Rogers under this merger locate its national headquarters here in Alberta,” Jason Kenney, Albreta’s premier, said Monday, adding the deal would present a “net benefit” to the province as Rogers has committed to hiring in the province and building a new research centre in Calgary.

Rogers' head office in Toronto.
Rogers’ head office in Toronto. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/National Post files

Kenney said he spoke to Rogers executives on the weekend and the company’s commitment to spend $2.5 billion building out its 5G network in Western Canada, which would be focused in large part in Alberta, meaning there would be a significant number of new jobs locally and better internet and wireless connections throughout rural Alberta.

“I would be a lot more concerned if this represented a net loss of jobs,” Kenney said.

Rogers is committing to add 3,000 net jobs in Western Canada with 1,800 in Alberta alone, keep its Western operations headquartered in Calgary, and plans to establish a National Centre of Technology and Engineering Excellence in Calgary.

“Fundamentally, this combination of two great companies will create more jobs and investment in Western Canada, connect more people and businesses, deliver best-in-class services and infrastructure across the nation, and provide increased competition and choice for Canadian consumers and businesses,” Rogers CEO Joe Natale said in a release.

This combination of two great companies will create more jobs and investment in Western Canada

Rogers CEO Joe Natale

Rogers said it will also set up a $1-billion fund to provide rural, remote and Indigenous communities across Western Canada with high-speed internet and upgraded infrastructure. “As part of this fund, Rogers will consult with Indigenous communities to create Indigenous-owned and operated Internet Service Providers, which would leverage Rogers expanded networks and capabilities to create sustainable, local connectivity solutions,” the company said.


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Still, there are concerns across the Western Canadian business community that the deal would equate to the loss of a head office and related jobs in a sector of the economy that most Alberta residents want to see thrive, especially as the province focuses on more economic diversification such as technologies and communications.

“We’re trying to diversify our economy and telecom is one area that is not oil and gas. They made comments about hiring more people in Western Canada to try to appease that but when you have a headquarters that isn’t here, there are some risks attached to that,” said Martin Pelletier, managing director and portfolio manager at Wellington-Altus Private Counsel in Calgary.

Rogers has committed to spend $2.5 billion building out its 5G network in Western Canada.
Rogers has committed to spend $2.5 billion building out its 5G network in Western Canada. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg files

From a competitive standpoint, Pelletier said he would have liked to have seen Shaw, a regional player, make inroads in Eastern Canada and elsewhere.

“It would be great to see a success story coming out of Alberta, using it as a launching pad to expand across Canada in addition to internationally,” he said.

Similarly, Auspice Capital Partners president and chief investment officer Tim Pickering said there are always concerns for Western Canadians when an important local business is purchased by companies from outside the Western region.

“I think that’s the biggest concern for Western Canadians — we’ve got these great plans and big promises,” Pickering said. “That sounds great, but the question is how confident are we in that?”


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However, the deal is likely to be welcomed in rural Alberta, where Rogers has said it will expand its wireless capabilities.

  1. Rogers Communications Inc said on Monday it has reached an
agreement to acquire Shaw Communications Inc.

    Rogers to buy Shaw in deal worth $26 billion, combining Canada’s two largest cable providers

  2. The Rogers-Shaw merger will leave Cogeco a small player among Canadian telcos. 

    Cogeco could find a silver lining in the Rogers-Shaw tie-up

  3. None

    William Watson: Rogers and Shaw and The Rent Seekers’ Ball

  4. Shaw Communications Executive Chair and CEO Brad Shaw.

    Shaw CEO says he weighed taking company private before turning to Rogers

“I’m a big fan of as many headquarters as possible, as long as you can compete globally,” said Art Price, the former CEO of Husky Energy Inc. and current chairman of Sunterra Market and real-estate data firm Bode Canada, adding the deal would allow Rogers to compete in rural Alberta where Telus Corp. currently holds a major advantage.

“Alberta will be better off from a competition and service point of view than under the status quo,” said Price, who lives in rural Alberta and believes the deal will result in new competition in the rural region.

Rogers’ commitments to spending money and hiring in Western Canada shows Shaw “has done some significant work” to ensure the deal benefits Calgary and the West, Business Council of Alberta president and CEO Adam Legge said in an emailed statement.

“At the end of the day, this is good news that others see this much value in an Alberta company, and are willing to offer a premium for it,” Legge said.

Financial Post

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX falls 0.14% to 19,201.28



* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.14 percent to 19,201.28

* Leading the index were Stantec Inc <STN.TO​>, up 3.4%, Imperial Oil Ltd​, up 3.3%, and Corus Entertainment Inc​, higher by 2.9%.

* Lagging shares were Aphria Inc​​, down 14.2%, Village Farms International Inc​, down 9.9%, and Aurora Cannabis Inc​, lower by 9.4%.

* On the TSX 91 issues rose and 134 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 24 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 228.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Royal Bank Of Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.32 points, or 0.3%, while the financials sector climbed 2.46 points, or 0.7%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.52%, or $0.31, to $59.63 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.4%, or $0.25, to $63.2 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.1% for the year.

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Air Canada signs C$5.9 billion government aid package, agrees to buy Airbus, Boeing jets



By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) -Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds.

The agreement – the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company – was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.

Canada‘s largest carrier, which last year cut over half its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, and other airlines have been negotiating with the government for months on a coronavirus aid package.

In February, Air Canada reported a net loss for 2020 of C$4.65 billion, compared with a 2019 profit of C$1.48 billion.

As part of the deal, Air Canada agreed to ban share buybacks and dividends, cap annual compensation for senior executives at C$1 million a year and preserve jobs at the current level, which is 14,859.

It will also proceed with planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners and 40 Boeing Co 737 MAX airliners.

Chris Murray, managing director, equity research at ATB Capital Markets, said the deal took into account the “specific needs of Air Canada in the short and medium term without being overly onerous.”

He added: “It gives them some flexibility in drawing down additional liquidity as needed.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government was still in negotiations with other airlines about possible aid.

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by area, depends heavily on civil aviation to keep remote communities connected.

Opposition politicians fretted that further delays in announcing aid could result in permanent damage to the country.

Air Canada said it would resume services on nearly all of the routes it had suspended because of COVID-19.


The deal removes a potential political challenge for the Liberals, who insiders say are set to trigger an election later this year.

The government has agreed to buy C$500 million worth of shares in the airline, at C$23.1793 each, or a 14.2% discount to Monday’s close, a roughly 6% stake.

“Maintaining a competitive airline sector and good jobs is crucially important,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, adding the equity stake would allow taxpayers to benefit when the airline’s fortunes recovered.

The Canadian government previously approved similar loans for four other companies worth up to C$1.billion, including up to C$375 million to low-cost airline Sunwing Vacations Inc. The government has paid out C$73.47 billion under its wage subsidy program and C$46.11 billion in loans to hard-hit small businesses.

Michael Rousseau, Air Canada‘s president and chief executive officer, said the liquidity “provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada.”

Jerry Dias, head of the Unifor private-sector union, described the announcement as “a good deal for everybody.”

Unifor represents more than 16,000 members working in the air transportation sector.

But the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents roughly 10,000 Air Canada flight attendants, said the package protected the jobs of current workers rather than the 7,500 members of its union who had been let go by the carrier.

($1=1.2567 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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U.K. advises limiting AstraZeneca in under-30s amid clot worry



British authorities recommended Wednesday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

The recommendation came as regulators both in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authorities recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. But the EMA advised no such age restrictions, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine, and any restrictions are closely watched since the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the UN-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This is a course correction, there’s no question about that,” Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said during a press briefing. “But it is, in a sense, in medicine quite normal for physicians to alter their preferences for how patients are treated over time.”

Van-Tam said the effect on Britain’s vaccination timetable — one of the speediest in the world — should be “zero or negligible,” assuming the National Health Service receives expected deliveries of other vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

EU and U.K. regulators held simultaneous press conferences Wednesday afternoon to announce the results of investigations into reports of blood clots that sparked concern about the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects. Dr Sabine Straus, chair of EMA’s Safety Committee, said the best data is coming from Germany where there is one report of the rare clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The agency said most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccination — but based on the currently available evidence, it was not able to identify specific risk factors. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the U.K., where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director. “The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects.”

Arlett said there is no information suggesting an increased risk from the other major COVID-19 vaccines.

The EMA’s investigation focused on unusual types of blood clots that are occurring along with low blood platelets. One rare clot type appears in multiple blood vessels and the other in veins that drain blood from the brain.

While the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks, that assessment is “more finely balanced” among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, the U.K’s Van-Tam said.

“We are not advising a stop to any vaccination for any individual in any age group,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. “We are advising a preference for one vaccine over another vaccine for a particular age group, really out of the utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns.”

In March, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most restarted — some with age restrictions — after the EMA said countries should continue using the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Britain, which relies heavily on AstraZeneca, however, continued to use it.

The suspensions were seen as particularly damaging for AstraZeneca because they came after repeated missteps in how the company reported data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and concerns over how well its shot worked in older people. That has led to frequently changing advice in some countries on who can take the vaccine, raising worries that AstraZeneca’s credibility could be permanently damaged, spurring more vaccine hesitancy and prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Peter English, who formerly chaired the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the back-and-forth over the AstraZeneca vaccine globally could have serious consequences.

“We can’t afford not to use this vaccine if we are going to end the pandemic,” he said.

In some countries, authorities have already noted hesitance toward the AstraZeneca shot.

“People come and they are reluctant to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, they ask us if we also use anything else,” said Florentina Nastase, a doctor and co-ordinator at a vaccination centre in Bucharest, Romania. “There were cases in which people (scheduled for the AstraZeneca) didn’t show up, there were cases when people came to the centre and saw that we use only AstraZeneca and refused (to be inoculated).”

Meanwhile, the governor of Italy’s northern Veneto region had said earlier Wednesday that any decision to change the guidance on AstraZeneca would cause major disruptions to immunizations — at a time when Europe is already struggling to ramp them up — and could create more confusion about the shot.

“If they do like Germany, and allow Astra Zeneca only to people over 65, that would be absurd. Before it was only for people under 55. Put yourself in the place of citizens, it is hard to understand anything,” Luca Zaia told reporters.

The latest suspension of AstraZeneca came in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region, where health chief Veronica Casado said Wednesday that “the principle of prudence” drove her to put a temporary hold on the vaccine that she still backed as being both effective and necessary.

French health authorities had said they, too, were awaiting EMA’s conclusions, as were some officials in Asia.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in people 60 and younger. In that age group, the country is only currently vaccinating health workers and people in long-term care settings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it would also pause a vaccine rollout to school nurses and teachers that was to begin on Thursday, while awaiting the outcome of the EMA’s review.

But some experts urged perspective. Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of Britain’s vaccination committee, said that the program has saved at least 6,000 lives in the first three months and will help pave the way back to normal life.

“What is clear it that for the vast majority of people the benefits of the Oxford AZ vaccine far outweigh any extremely small risk,” he said. “And the Oxford AZ vaccine will continue to save many from suffering the devastating effects that can result from a COVID infection.”

Source: – CTV News

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