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B.C. investment picture looks brighter, but clouds loom: report – BCBusiness

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B.C. economy

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Amid a strong economic recovery, falling non-private residential investment is one of several weak spots, warns the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia

With the dark days of 2020 well behind us, B.C.’s investment climate keeps getting warmer.

The latest edition of BC Check-Up: Invest, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), delivers that good news. The report, which evaluates the province as a place to invest by weighing economic indicators such as housing starts, business activity and capital spending on major projects, also offers a few warnings.

Since the COVID-induced recession reached its low point in the summer of 2020, B.C. has enjoyed one of the strongest economic recoveries in Canada, CPABC notes. One sign of a turnaround is the number of active businesses in the province, which now tops pre-pandemic levels. The total stood at 152,048 this past November, up 2.3 percent from January 2020.

When it comes to industries, though, the pandemic has created winners and losers. Information and culture led the way with 2,052 businesses as of November, an 8.7-percent jump compared to January 2020. Close behind was professional services (up 7 percent), followed by food manufacturing (up 5.1 percent).

As the report points out, businesses that rely on human interaction still face a struggle. One of the biggest casualties is tourism, whose total active businesses fell 1.9 percent during the same period, to 12,867.

“It will be important to help industries still facing challenges through skills training for displaced workers and business support,” said Lori Mathison, president and CEO of CPABC, in a release.

READ MORE: Want to break B.C.’s boom-and-bust cycle? Focus on people, tech leader argues

Mathison went on to highlight an industry that has pulled through the pandemic better than most: “Another sign of investment recovery is that the number of housing starts reached a new record in 2021, largely driven by rising prices and demand.”

Throughout B.C. last year, construction began on 43,360 housing units, a slight increase over the previous high in 2019 and 24.3 percent more than in 2020. Almost 80 percent of those properties were attached units such as condos and townhomes, the CPABC report observes.

B.C. investment climate

Credit: CPABC

Major projects like the Broadway Subway Project and LNG Canada were another bright spot in 2021. Combined, the value of those undertakings grew to $394.3 billion in the third quarter, a year-over-year gain of 6.4 percent.

The picture is less glowing for private non-residential investment, which spans maintenance, upgrades and construction. That category shrank to $4.4 billion last year, from $5 billion in 2020 and $7 billion in 2019, according to CPABC.

Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted gross domestic product per person remains sluggish. CPABC forecasts an average of $53,623 for 2021, up 4.1 percent from the previous year but just below $53,983 for 2019. “While GDP per person is anticipated to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession is expected to permanently reduce our provincial GDP outlook,” the report cautions.

On the other hand, B.C.’s net debt-to-GDP ratio keeps rising. That number will climb to 22.8 percent in 2024-25, the provincial government projects, versus 17.8 percent in 2021-22.

Although investment activity has picked up dramatically in the past 18 months, Mathison stressed that challenges remain. “Given the sustained decline in private non-residential investment, it will be important to target policies that encourage and attract business investment to help boost our productivity and incomes,” she said. “It will also be important to create a plan to return to balanced budgets and control debt, particularly as the Bank of Canada has begun to increase interest rates.” 

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Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund Announces Bonus Distribution to Unitholders – GlobeNewswire

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TORONTO, May 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund has paid a bonus distribution of $0.065 per eligible Class F unit. The bonus distribution equals the excess income earned by the fund for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. The total distribution per unit for the 2021 fiscal year, inclusive of this bonus distribution, was $0.65/unit on a monthly basis, or an annualized return of 6.7%, on a monthly compounded basis. The strong performance of the Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund is a direct result of the following: a) long standing and strong broker client relationships b) best in class staff; and c) conservative and thorough underwriting practices.

“It was a record breaking year filled with a unique set of challenges posed by the pandemic. We will continue to be conservative in our underwriting and portfolio management while being competitive on interest rates and terms offered to our longstanding broker client network. In 2021 and early in 2022 we were fortunate to attract top industry talent to join our already dynamic team. We want to fund the best mortgages, not the most mortgages. Our focus is, and always will be, the preservation of investor capital and providing consistent risk adjusted returns to our mortgage fund investors,” said Nick Christopoulos, CEO of Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund.

About Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund

Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund was established in 2004 as a Mortgage Investment Corporation in the Ottawa region. Throughout the years, the fund has strategically expanded its lending region to include Central and Southwestern Ontario and the Gatineau regional area of Quebec. Today, the fund manages assets in excess of $300 million all while maintaining the primary objective of providing investors with a consistent and stable fixed income solution for their investment portfolio.

To learn more about the Westboro Mortgage Investment Fund, including investment opportunities and qualification criteria please visit www.westboromic.com or contact the Vice President of Fund Sales, Scott Roberts at sroberts@westboromic.com.

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Vancouver investment firm fraudulently purchased for $100 million, panel finds – Business in Vancouver

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Vancouver investment firm fraudulently purchased for $100 million, panel finds – Economy, Law & Politics | Business in Vancouver


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Claridge Food Group announces $40 million strategic investment in WeCook Meals – Canada NewsWire

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“This major investment marks a new step in WeCook Meals‘ development plan. We have experienced strong growth over the past few years, and this capital injection combined with Claridge Food Group’s industrial expertise will allow us to strengthen our position as the leading ready-to-eat delivery company in Quebec and Ontario and accelerate our growth across Canada. We want to be clearly recognized as the benchmark ready-to-eat meal brand for all Canadians,” says Étienne Plourde, founder and CEO of WeCook Meals.

The Canadian food delivery market combined with online commerce is growing at an accelerated pace and was estimated to be worth over $5 billion in 2021. WeCook Meals stands out for its unique offering of fresh, ready-to-eat meals that meet the needs of the growing number of people who want to eat well but don’t have time to cook. The company aims to accelerate its annual sales growth (exceeding four million meals in 2021), relying primarily on its extensive food processing expertise, quality meals, menu customization and digital marketing excellence.

“We want to raise awareness of our unique offering to increase our customer base and gross revenue. Our nimble business model allows us to manage the impact of inflation on food prices, as well as adapt the choice of ingredients offered in our weekly menu. This investment will allow us to accelerate the prepared and ready-to-eat meal revolution by offering consumers a wider selection of healthy, tasty, and convenient meals at affordable prices,” added Plourde.

“In just a few years, WeCook Meals has become the leading ready-to-eat company in Canada, thanks to the support of financial partners such as Desjardins Capital and Investissement Québec. The new investment we are announcing demonstrates the deep confidence of all our partners in WeCook Meals’ vision and business plan. We will work with WeCook Meals’ management to provide them with the financial capabilities and management expertise of growing food processing companies, adding value at every stage of their development,” said Pierre Boivin, President and CEO of Claridge.

“The agri-food industry is a flagship sector of our economy and one of Investissement Québec’s priority industries to ensure sustainable economic development throughout Quebec. We’re proud to participate in this round of financing to help a young company like WeCook Meals realize its growth plans and to continue the unifying role we are committed to playing in the financial ecosystem, particularly in facilitating access to development capital,” says Guy LeBlanc, President and CEO of Investissement Québec.

“Our $10 million investment in the new financial vehicle of Claridge Food Group allows us to combine Desjardins Capital’s credibility, experience and agility with the leading-edge expertise in the food processing sector that this partner offers,” says Marie-Hélène Nolet, Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins Capital. “As demonstrated by this joint investment in WeCook Meals, our partnership will help agri-food companies undertake their growth projects and overcome the challenges of inflation and supply, while remaining relevant to changing consumer habits. We’re all the more proud to offer additional leverage to this company that we’ve been supporting since 2019, always in keeping with the founders’ vision.”

Advisors

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and Desjardins Capital Markets acted as financial advisors to WeCook Meals.

About
Claridge Food
Group 

Claridge Food Group is an investment vehicle created by Claridge Inc. with the participation of Investissement Québec, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, and Desjardins Capital. Its mission is to support Quebec food processing companies with significant growth potential by providing them with financial resources, managerial and operational support, knowledge of global trends, and a large network of partners to support and accelerate their growth in Quebec, Canada and North America. 

About WeCook Meals

WeCook Meals was founded in 2013 by two young entrepreneurs who wanted to spend less time in the kitchen, without compromising on a high-quality, nutritious diet. Meals are curated by an in-house chef, using only freshest ingredients sourced from local suppliers in a zero-waste facility. Demand for WeCook Meals’ read-made meals have increased 300% and the Montreal-based company has successfully created 600 new jobs. The Montreal-based company currently has two production facilities delivering more than 4 million meals a year throughout Ontario and Quebec. For HD images.

About Investissement Québec

Investissement Québec’s mission is to play an active role in Quebec’s economic development by spurring business innovation, entrepreneurship and business acquisitions, as well as growth in investment and exports. Operating in all the province’s administrative regions, the corporation supports the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes with investments and customized financial solutions. It also assists businesses by providing consulting services and other support measures, including technological assistance available from Investissement Québec – CRIQ. In addition, through Investissement Québec International, it also prospects for talent and foreign investment and assists Quebec businesses with export activities.

About Desjardins Capital

Over 45 years strong, Desjardins Capital has a mission to value, support and nurture the best of Quebec entrepreneurship. With assets under management of C$3.0 billion as of December 31, 2021, Desjardins Capital helps contribute to the longevity of more than 670 companies, cooperatives and funds in various sectors from across Quebec. In addition to helping to maintain and create many thousands of jobs, this subsidiary of Desjardins Group offers business owners access to a large business network and supports their business growth. For more information, visit our website.

About Claridge

Claridge is a Montreal-based family office that represents the interests of the Stephen Bronfman family, with a focus on maximizing long-term capital appreciation. Claridge is actively engaged in managing a diversified portfolio of investments in private companies as well as interests in third-party managed funds in a variety of industries across the globe. As a strategic financial investor, our direct equity participations span a range of industry sectors, including holdings in food, technology, entertainment, renewable energy, and real estate. Claridge focuses its investments in small and medium-sized businesses and contributes its expertise in partnership with management to accelerate growth.

SOURCE Claridge Food Group

For further information: WeCook Meals, Christina Krcevinac, Senior Marketing Manager, Tel: 1 514 562-4904, [email protected]; Claridge, Manager of Claridge Food Group, Daniel Granger, Tel: 1 514 232 1556, [email protected]; Investissement Québec, Catherine Salvail, Advisor, Medias and Governmental Affairs, Tel: 1 514 876-9600, [email protected]; Desjardins Capital, Marc-Antoine Lavoie, Senior Advisor, Public Relations, Tel: 1 418 563-8853, [email protected]

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