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Bombardier reports $1.6B US loss for 2019, sells remaining stakes in A220 program Quebec

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Quebec aerospace giant Bombardier reported a $1.6 billion US loss for 2019 on Thursday, shortly after it announced that it’s leaving the commercial aviation business.

The multinational corporation said late Wednesday that it sold its remaining stake in the A220 program — formerly known as the C Series — to Airbus.

Bombardier has been re-organizing its business in an effort to pay off a multibillion-dollar deficit. It released its financial results for 2019 on Thursday.

Under the deal, Airbus now owns a 75 per cent stake in the commercial jet program. The Quebec government, which is not injecting any new money into the program, owns 25 per cent.

Airbus, which also acquired the A220 and A330 work package production capabilities from Bombardier, will pay Bombardier $591 million US. Bombardier will no longer be required to make investments of approximately $700 million US in the commercial jet program.

The deal also includes a three-year guarantee of the jobs belonging to 360 people who construct the plane’s cockpits at the plant in the Montreal borough of Ville Saint-Laurent. After that, they will be transferred to Mirabel, Que.

In all, Airbus said the deal secures a total of 3,300 jobs in Quebec.

Bombardier said in January that it was “reassessing its ongoing participation” in its partnership with Airbus to manufacture the A220.

Despite the Quebec government’s $1.3 billion investment in the C Series in 2016, sales of the planes were initially slow, leading Bombardier to sell a controlling stake of the C Series program to Airbus in 2018 for $1.

Today, the Canadian company Bombardier is more than $9 billion US in debt. Over the years, it has received billions in taxpayer bailouts. But after some big failures, layoffs and criticism over executive bonuses, this time around may be different. 24:05

While A220 orders have since started rolling in, Bombardier would need to inject more money into the program to ramp up production.

Premier François Legault has ruled out investing more government money in the A220 program, but Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said that he wants to protect Quebec’s investment in the plane.

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Buffett spends record US$2.2B buying up Berkshire shares – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Warren Buffett kicked his stock-buyback program into high gear, spending US$2.2 billion on repurchases in the last three months of 2019, the most ever in a single quarter — and he’s looking to buy even more.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which loosened its repurchase policy almost two years ago after being stymied on the dealmaking front, has since taken a cautious approach to buybacks, acquiring only US$6.3 billion of stock. In the fourth quarter, Buffett bought shares every month, and has no plans to slow down, if the price is right.

“Shareholders having at least US$20 million in value of A or B shares and an inclination to sell shares to Berkshire may wish to have their broker contact Berkshire’s Mark Millard,” Buffett said in his annual letter to shareholders Saturday. “We request that you phone Mark between 8:00-8:30 a.m. or 3:00-3:30 p.m. Central Time, calling only if you are ready to sell.”

Even as Buffett ramped up his repurchases, Berkshire’s massive pile of cash hovered close to a record, totaling $128 billion at the end of 2019. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer, has sought to redeploy those funds into higher-returning deals or stock purchases, but has been stymied by what he’s said are “sky-high” prices for good businesses.

Buffett spent a portion of his annual letter reassuring shareholders about the future of the company once it’s no longer run by the billionaire investor and his business partner, Charlie Munger, who turned 96 this year.

“Berkshire shareholders need not worry: Your company is 100% prepared for our departure,” Buffett said.

At Berkshire’s annual meeting in May, shareholders will be able to submit questions to be answered by lieutenants Ajit Jain or Greg Abel, Berkshire vice chairmen who are considered top contenders to someday replace Buffett. They answered a few investors questions at last year’s meeting.

Berkshire’s operating earnings fell to US$4.42 billion in the fourth quarter, down 23 per cent from a year earlier, driven by underwriting losses at its namesake reinsurance group, which was hurt by typhoons in Japan, wildfires in California and Australia, and widening losses at its business writing retroactive reinsurance contracts.

Berkshire’s Class A shares last year underperformed the S&P 500 Index by the widest margin since 2009. The stock has gained just 1.1% this year.

Also in Berkshire’s 2019 annual report, released alongside Buffett’s letter Saturday:

  • Kraft Heinz Co., which counts Berkshire as its largest shareholder, had a tumultuous 2019, with writedowns, management shakeups and downgrades to junk. Buffett’s company carries its Kraft Heinz investment on its balance sheet at US$13.8 billion, a figure unchanged since 2018’s fourth quarter, even as the market price of the stake dropped to US$10.5 billion at the end of last year.
  • Berkshire’s BNSF railroad posted a 3.8 per cent gain in profit in the fourth quarter, just shy of record earnings in the previous three months, as a decline in expenses helped counter falling revenue across shipments of products such as coal, consumer items and agricultural goods. BNSF posted a regulatory filing Friday night, on the eve of the release of Buffett’s annual letter, giving investors a sneak peek of results.

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No winning ticket for Friday night's $65 million Lotto Max jackpot – CTV News

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TORONTO —
No winning ticket was sold for the $65 million jackpot in Friday night’s Lotto Max draw.

However, six of the Maxmillion prizes of $1 million each were won.

They will be shared by eight ticket holders.

The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Feb. 25 will now grow to an eye-popping $70 million, and there will be 20 Maxmillion prizes up for grabs.

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Superior takes measures to move propane by truck, U.S. trains amid rail blockades – The Globe and Mail

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Cargo containers sit on idle train cars at port in Vancouver, on Feb. 21, 2020. Superior has brought in trucks from Western Canada and moved propane to Atlantic Canada by train from the United States.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Fears of a looming propane crisis caused by rail blockades have been partly alleviated by U.S. supplies, unseasonably warm weather and selective deliveries, says the head of Superior Propane.

But unless freight-train service resumes in Eastern Canada, rationing and shortages of the home-heating fuel are likely, said Greg McCamus, president of Superior Propane, whose main Ontario depot in Sarnia is supplied by trains and a pipeline.

Superior has brought in trucks from Western Canada and moved propane to Atlantic Canada by train from the United States, Mr. McCamus said. Customers that operate barbecue refilling stations are getting limited deliveries, in order to allow Superior to prioritize residents, hospitals and nursing homes.

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“We’ve also been a bit fortunate that the weather in Ontario has been a bit warmer than normal for this time of year. So that’s all helping us to keep the supply moving.”

Mr. McCamus said the measures have helped ensure Superior can maintain a supply that would last about a week to 10 days. Normally, there is about two weeks’ supply. He said it is hard to pin down a date by which the supplies will run out, given the new steps the company has taken, and the variables of weather and demand.

“We hope that if the rail lines start running again, we can move through it without that kind of a crisis happening. But there is no question it’s an issue for the industry. And if we don’t get a resolution, it’s going to get [worse],” he said by phone.

The blockades are in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline on their traditional territory in northern British Columbia. The $6-billion project by Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. would pipe natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the coast for export.

The protests have raised concerns about shortages of critical supplies of everything from propane to water-treatment chemicals, and put pressure on the federal government to find a solution to limit economic damage.

Canadian National Railway Co., whose line east of Toronto has been blocked for two weeks, has halted freight service on its eastern Canadian network. Passenger rail company Via Rail, which leases track space from CN, has suspended most of its trains.

The blockades have also stopped or slowed rail service at Canada’s four main ports, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal and Halifax, forcing ships to idle at anchor or divert to U.S. destinations.

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In Halifax and Montreal, off-loaded containers of consumer goods and industrial components are stacked on the docks, with no CN trains to take them away to markets outside the province. “The CN network blockade greatly complicates the logistics of transporting goods or completely blocks the movement of goods for CN users,” said Mélanie Nadeau, a spokeswoman for the Port of Montreal.

An executive with German container ship owner Hapag-Lloyd AG said the company is considering skipping calls at Halifax, but has been less affected at Vancouver and Montreal, where it uses Canadian Pacific Railway trains.

In an open letter to Mr. Trudeau, CP chief executive officer Keith Creel called on the Prime Minister to hold talks with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Mr. Creel said the railway is “severely impacted” by the disputes, including a Thursday protest on a CP line near Chase, B.C., that stopped trains headed to the Port of Vancouver and a 12-day blockade south of Montreal that has cut off U.S. access.

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