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Brookfield Infrastructure aims to bolster data portfolio with $2.6-billion Cincinnati Bell deal – Financial Post

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Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP is aiming to add another piece to its growing data-infrastructure portfolio with the proposed acquisition of Ohio-based telco Cincinnati Bell Inc.

It was announced Monday that Brookfield Infrastructure and its institutional partners are buying Cincinnati Bell in a transaction valued at around US$2.6 billion, including debt.

Cincinnati Bell uses its fibre-optic and copper networks to provide high-speed internet, video, voice and data services to customers in parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Hawaii.

The company is currently upgrading its network to “next generation” fibre, a press release said, which is needed to support “the growing demand for data” and the emergence of fifth-generation cellular technology known as 5G. To date, half of Cincinnati Bell’s network has been “future-proofed,” the release said.

Acquiring Cincinnati Bell would fit into Brookfield Infrastructure’s existing interests. Chief executive Sam Pollock said in the release that the deal will add “utility-like cash flows,” as well as yet another major investment for the company’s data-infrastructure portfolio.

That portfolio has been particularly active lately, with the play for Cincinnati Bell following a couple of other deals.

Brookfield Infrastructure on Dec. 16 announced it was buying a telecom tower company in India for US$3.7 billion, with the company paying US$375 million of that and the rest coming from its investing partners.

And on Dec. 19, 3i Infrastructure PLC announced it had agreed to sell its 93-per-cent stake in the United Kingdom’s Wireless Infrastructure Group Ltd. to Brookfield Infrastructure, in a sale that valued the stake in WIG at around £387 million ($658 million). WIG builds and operates telecom towers in rural and suburban areas.

CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Catellier said in a note on the Indian telecom tower investment that Brookfield Infrastructure also had experience in the telecom infrastructure business in France and New Zealand.

“It is on strategy in regard to both jurisdiction and asset class, as BIP has been targeting additional data infrastructure investments,” he said. “Data infrastructure and transmission is expected to grow with the roll out of 5G service; the technology requires a significantly higher number of points-of-presence over 4G.”

Brookfield Infrastructure’s data infrastructure segment serves customers in the telecom and media broadcasting sectors, and its aims “are to invest capital to enhance and expand our service offerings while providing safe, reliable and secure access to our properties,” the company said in a third-quarter report.

“If we are able to achieve these objectives,” Brookfield added, “we will be able to attract new customers and maintain low levels of churn on existing customers.”

Approximately 30 per cent of Brookfield Infrastructure is owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which has more than $500 billion in assets under management. Brookfield Infrastructure first went public in 2008, and calls itself “the flagship listed infrastructure company of Brookfield Asset Management.”

Shares of Brookfield Infrastructure rose Monday morning following the Cincinnati Bell announcement, and were up around 1.8 per cent as of 10:30 a.m., trading at $64.82 in Toronto.

Under the terms of the deal announced Monday, each issued and outstanding share of Cincinnati Bell common stock will be converted into the right to receive US$10.50 in cash upon the transaction closing, which is expected to happen by the end of 2020, pending shareholder and regulatory approval.

The US$10.50 cash offer is a 36-per-cent premium to Cincinnati Bell’s closing share price on Dec. 20.

“After thoroughly reviewing a range of strategic alternatives and possible business opportunities for maximizing value, the Board determined this transaction was in the best interest of the company, its shareholders, and its customers,” Cincinnati Bell chair Lynn Wentworth said in the release.

Chief executive Leigh Fox added that “the transaction strengthens our financial position, enabling accelerated investment in our strategic products that is not presently available to Cincinnati Bell as a standalone company.”

Financial Post

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Trudeau speaks to Pfizer CEO as delays to vaccine shipments get worse – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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MIa Rabson, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, January 21, 2021 4:39PM EST


Last Updated Thursday, January 21, 2021 8:00PM EST

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.

In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.

Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.

Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.

Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses.

Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.

“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.

Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.

Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.

Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.

Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.

Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.

Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.

Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.

Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

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Two COVID-19 cases reported Thursday – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
*************************
Two new cases of COVID-19 are being reported today, Jan. 21. Nova Scotia has 22 active cases.

The two cases are in Northern Zone. The first case is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The person is self-isolating, as required.

The other case is connected to École acadienne de Truro, a pre-primary to grade 12 school in Truro. Because the case came in after the cut-off for reporting, it will not appear on our data website and dashboard until tomorrow, Jan. 22.

The person was not in school today and is self-isolating. The school will close to allow for deep cleaning, testing and contact tracing, and is expected to reopen to students on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Students will learn from home during the closure and families of the school will receive an update on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

As with any positive case, public health will be in touch with any close contacts of this case and advise of next steps. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Although our case numbers are low, we must not become complacent,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “We know the virus wants to spread and we can prevent that from happening by following all of the public health protocols.”

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,589 Nova Scotia tests on Jan. 20.

As of Jan. 20, 9,827 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 2,696 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 147,592 tests. There have been 477 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. No one is currently in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70. Four hundred and fifty-five cases are now resolved. Cumulative cases may change as data is updated in Panorama.

“I’m encouraged to see that our case numbers have remained low over the past few weeks,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “We must remain vigilant and stay committed to following the public health measures.”

Post-secondary students returning to Nova Scotia from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador are strongly encouraged to visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test for day six, seven or eight of their 14-day self-isolation period. COVID-19 testing appointments can be booked up to three days in advance.

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:
— fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)

Or:
Two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
— sore throat
— runny nose/nasal congestion
— headache
— shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, the person is directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days. Public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person.

Anyone who has travelled from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, anyone who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen and operate at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— additional information on COVID-19 case data, testing and vaccines is available on https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data/
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22, 2020 and extended to Jan. 24, 2021
— online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

If you need help with a non-crisis mental health or addiction concern call Community Mental Health and Addictions at 1-855-922-1122 (toll-free) weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/

*************************

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Tory, Trudeau urge Pfizer to improve COVID-19 vaccine production – CityNews Toronto

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Toronto Mayor John Tory has joined a chorus of Canadian politicians in urging Pfizer-Biotech to produce more COVID-19 vaccine.

Tory followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others, in speaking directly to executives from the pharmaceutical multinational. Tory said he wanted to make a constructive case after the company said it would not be able to fulfil next week’s order to the federal government.

“The best way to go about these kinds of conversations is to make your case as a Canadian, which I did, and as the mayor of the largest city in the country, and to try to make Canada’s case,” Tory said.

Tory said he knows members of Pfizer’s management team from his previous career as a business executive, and that he reached out to them in concert with the federal government.

“I’m trying to help the country’s efforts to try to see if we can’t get more supply,” the mayor said. “I can’t tell you what results my intervention, or anybody else’s, will have.”

Toronto has had to shut down its two vaccination programs until the federal government provides more doses to the city’s public health unit.

An immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre closed after two days of inoculating front-line health care workers. The city also paused a pilot in shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s chief medical officer, said everyone’s frustrated with the shipping delay, because the vaccine offers people hope.

“Having it slowed down and having the change in course is not what we wanted,” De Villa said. “But we expect there will be eventually vaccine coming available and we’ll do our very best.”

De Villa said there were 986 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. The update included 102 cases from earlier in the week that had previously gone unreported because of a technical error.

Councillor Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Board of Health, joined Tory and De Villa at the Thursday afternoon news conference. All three detailed the city’s ongoing efforts to support racialized communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Toronto, Ontario Health, hospitals, and community health providers have been working to improve access to testing in those neighbourhoods. Toronto reports nearly 271 testing clinics have been booked in more than 20 different city-owned facilities, with 89 more dates to come in January at 12 different sites.

Trudeau’s conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Thursday came the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.

In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.

Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.

Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.

Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.

“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.

Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.

Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.

Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.

Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.

Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.

Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.

Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.

Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.

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