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Cineplex takeover makes sense as pressure from streamers mounts – Financial Post

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Cineplex Inc. has agreed to be bought by British theatre chain Cineworld in a $2.8-billion deal that, if approved, would create the largest cinema empire in North America, the company announced on Monday.

Cineplex is the dominant theatre banner in Canada, with a 75 per cent share of the box office. But at 1,700 screens, it’s a relatively minor player compared to a giant like Cineworld. In an industry in which streaming services are weaning studios off their dependence on cinemas, joining a giant could be the right move for Cineplex, analysts suggested Monday.

The Cineworld Group plc offer, which values Cineplex at $34 a share, would boost Cineworld’s screen count to more than 8,900 screens in North America, surpassing AMC and making it the largest cinema circuit on the continent, Cineworld chief executive Moshe Greidinger told investors on a conference call.

Cinemas have been struggling to hold on to their right to screen films exclusively for several months before they’re shown on other platforms. With studios such as Disney running their own streaming services, the pressure to shrink the theatrical window will grow, said Sam La Bell, head of research at Veritas Investment Research.

“You want to have enough bargaining power with the studios so you can have sway,” he said. “The bigger you are, the more bargaining power you have.”

The deal needs to clear several hurdles before it is approved, including a seven-week period during which Cineplex can solicit competing offers. But analysts didn’t have high expectations for the go-shop phase.

“We believe that this transaction is most likely the end game,” CIBC analyst Robert Bek wrote in a research note. “There is low probability that a white knight will step in with a competing bid, however this scenario is not off the table.”

The deal also needs regulatory approval in Canada, two-thirds approval from Cineplex shareholders, and approval from a simple majority of Cineworld shareholders. Cineworld says it already has assurances from its largest shareholder, which owns a 28 per cent stake.

We don’t see any deal threats to the deal, just some baggage to drag across the line

Robert Bek, analyst, CIBC

“While current market share of Canadian box office at 75-per-cent-plus may lead to anti-trust scrutiny from the regulatory body, we don’t see any deal threats to the deal, just some baggage to drag across the line,” Bek wrote.

If the deal goes through, Greidinger said he will roll out Cineworld’s Unlimited subscription plan in Canada, allowing moviegoers to watch as many films as they want for a monthly fee.

“The success of Unlimited is really indisputable,” Greidinger said.

After closing at about $24 on Friday, Cineplex shares soared following the acquisition announcement Monday, closing at $33.96 — just below Cineworld’s offer. The $2.8 billion transaction value includes the assumption of net debt, Cineplex said.

“Given Cineplex’s recent share price underperformance, valuation and high-quality asset mix … we are not entirely surprised,” RBC analyst Drew McReynolds wrote about the deal.

Amid turbulence in the business, Cineplex has taken strides to diversify itself, entering the restaurant sector with its Rec Room chain of pub-arcade hybrids. It also runs the Playdium arcade chain and an arcade-equipment rental business. On the movie side, Cineplex has added a slate of premium screening options — VIP theatres, enhanced viewing experiences such as UltraAVX and 4D — to distinguish itself from the experience of watching at home, allowing the company to extract more revenue from a shrinking audience base, La Bell said.

While Greidinger spoke positively about Cineplex’s non-theatre businesses on Monday, analysts questioned how long they’d last after the entirely debt-financed deal.

“Asset sales are probably in the mix,” Le Bell said, suggesting that Cineworld will be motivated to pay down debt and might not be interested in staying in the restaurant business. Greidinger, however, noted that Cineplex’s arcade supplier sends equipment to other theatres in the Cineworld network.

He said Cineworld is expecting to realize US$130 million in cost savings after the purchase.

“Consolidation is a part of the life today,” Greidinger said, adding that the number of screens in his empire “is not what counts.” What counts, he said, is “cash flow and the profit.”

Theatres are ultimately competing for attention, said Kaan Yigit, president and research director at Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc. That means they’re not just up against streaming services.

“So if you want to compete for attention with that scale/size, you either have to be a narrow specialist or of a certain size yourself,” Yigit said in an email.

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7 Reasons Why America Loves Doing Business with Canada

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Canada is one of the United States’ most important trading partners. According to the United States Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US exports over $300B worth of goods and services to Canada annually. It also imports over $300B worth of goods and services from the country every year.

In fact, the trade relationship between the two North American countries is the biggest in the world. The two nations have traded for over 100 years. And a strong trade relationship is prosperous for both countries.

So, what makes Canada such an excellent trading partner for the United States? Here are a few good reasons:

1. Geographical Location

Canada shares a large border with the United States. Trading with Canada is easy by road, boat, or air. Most of the economic hotspots in Canada like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are just a short flight away from an American city.

2. Manufacturing Strengths

Canada has some exceptional exports thanks to its vast manufacturing strengths. Here are a few of its two products:

  • Non-renewable Energy: Canada’s non-renewable energy exports like oil and gas are a significant part of its economy. Although falling gas prices have impacted this sector, Canada continues to depend on its gas and oil exports.
  • Composite Manufacturing: You’ll find plenty of world-class options if you’re looking for advanced composite manufacturing in Canada regardless of your industry. The Canadian composite manufacturing industry serves many national and international clients in sectors such as defence, transportation, marine, aerospace, medical, industrial, energy, home appliances, construction, and more.
  • Vehicle: Canada has a renowned automotive sector, producing light trucks, crossovers, SUVs, etc., with its technologically advanced factories. 95% of Canada’s automotive exports go to the United States.
  • Aluminum: The Great White North produces some of the best quality aluminum in the world. The United States happens to be Canada’s biggest importer of aluminum.
  • Meat and Dairy: Canada produces meat, beef, poultry, and dairy known for its quality. Unlike some countries, Canada doesn’t use harmful hormones in its meat industry.

3. Good Tax Treaties

Canada has many provisions that make business favourable for American companies. For example, a non-resident corporation that does not otherwise have a permanent establishment (PE) in Canada may do business without paying income tax on its profits. Canada also offers favourable corporate taxes, especially compared to the United States.

Aside from federal incentives, many provinces offer provincial incentives to do business in Canada. For example, many American films and TV shows are shot in Toronto because of lucrative tax enticements.

4. Favourable Exchange Rates

Not only is the Canadian dollar stable, but it usually hovers 20% lower than the United States. The favourable exchange rate makes it cost-effective for the United States to import goods and services from Canada.

However, the exchange rate isn’t so low that it discourages Canadians from travelling to the United States or buying American products. Many economists consider the exchange rate to be in the sweet spot.

5. Similar Culture

Canada speaks the same language, eats the same food, plays the same sports, and consumes the same entertainment. A similar coculture without language barriers makes it easier for Americans to do business with Canada.

Of course, there are some parts of Canada where French is the most popular language. Likewise, Spanish is more prevalent in certain places in the United States. However, these issues are easily overcome with business cards, translators, and technology.

6. Prominent Tech Industry

Many American technology companies are doing business with Canada because of the country’s prominence on the tech stage. For example, Toronto produces more tech occupations than the Bay Area, New York, and even Silicon Valley.

Toronto also has over 2,000 startups and over 14,000 tech companies. In the MaRS Center, Canada also has one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. Canada is also the first nation in the world to develop a national AI strategy. There are over 500 international AI firms in the country. The world’s biggest concentration of AI startups is in Canada.

Besides the national AI strategy, there is plenty of other support for tech development in the country that’s attractive to the United States. Canada invested $900m in high-tech innovation and funded startup incubators in 2015.

Additionally, Canada offers many tax breaks to companies for research and development. It also provides special visa programs for investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry.

7. Qualified Labour Pool

Canada has the second-highest tertiary education levels worldwide for people between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada’s highly skilled workforce stands at nearly 1.5 million people. Canada’s tech talent is also ranked highly for diversity.

These are just some of the many reasons why the United States enjoys doing business with Canada. Even with the economic climate changing, you can expect the partnership between the two countries to stand the test of time.

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10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2

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Last week I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:

 

  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media

 

I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:

 

  1. Customize your URL

 

Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-kossovan-647e3b49). Customizing your profile URL (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickkossovan/) makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:

 

  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).

 

James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

 

To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.

 

  1. Make connections

 

The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’

 

At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn.

 

As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)

 

  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements

 

This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.

 

When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.

 

Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.

 

TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.

 

  1. Keep your profile active

 

LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.

 

Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.

 

  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength

 

It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.

 

The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally.

_________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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Canadian National beats Canadian Pacific with $33.6 billion Kansas City bid

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U.S. railway operator Kansas City Southern said on Thursday that it had accepted Canadian National Railway Co’s $33.6 billion acquisition offer, upending a $29 billion deal with its competitor Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

The development, first reported by Reuters, gives Canadian Pacific five business days to make a new offer for Kansas City Southern. Were Canadian Pacific to table a new offer, a bidding war could ensue.

Canadian Pacific had previously announced a deal to buy Kansas City Southern on March 21, before Canadian National said it had submitted a higher bid on April 20. The headline price in Canadian National’s cash-and-stock bid remains $325 per share as originally announced, though the company offered more of its shares to compensate for a decline in its stock price.

Canadian National has offered to cover the $700 million break-up fee Kansas City Southern will owe Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. It will also pay Kansas City Southern $1 billion if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) rejects a voting trust structure it has put forward to complete the deal.

“We believe that Canadian Pacific’s negotiated agreement with Kansas City is the only true end-to-end Class I combination that is in the best interests of North American shippers and communities,” a Canadian Pacific spokeswoman said.

Canadian Pacific and larger rival Canadian National are in a race to take over the U.S. railroad operator, which would create the first direct railway linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Either of them acquiring Kansas City Southern would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada, as supply chains recover from COVID-19 pandemic-led disruptions.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year that removed the threat of trade tensions, which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The STB last week approved the voting trust for Canadian Pacific’s proposed acquisition. Canadian National has offered an identical arrangement.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Aurora Ellis and Richard Chang)

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