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Keeping Messi would be 'risky' investment, says Barcelona president – CBC.ca

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Money came between Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Barcelona said the player wanted to stay. The club wanted the same. They even shook hands on a deal.

But in the end the club’s dire financial situation made it impossible.

Letting Messi go was the only way of saving the club, and just like that Messi’s era at Barcelona came to an end.

President Joan Laporta said Friday that keeping the Argentine star would be risky, and not even the greatest player in the world was worth jeopardizing the club’s future.

“We think Barcelona is above all,” Laporta said. “The club is over 100 years old and is above everyone, even above the best player in the world. The club goes over players, coaches, presidents.”

Laporta spoke a day after the club announced the negotiations with Messi had ended.

Laporta blamed Barcelona’s previous administration for the club’s dire financial situation, which kept it from fitting Messi’s new contract within the Spanish league’s fair play regulations.

He said he hoped the league would have been more flexible with its rules but understood that it couldn’t make an exception even if that meant losing Messi.

“There are objective reasons regarding the economical situation at the club and an investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky,” Laporta said. “We wanted to assume those risks, but when we realized the real situation of the club after the audit, it meant that we would have put the club in great risk.”

He said Messi and the club did everything to make the contract work but it wasn’t possible without hurting Barcelona’s finances. The first deal rejected by the league was a two-year contract payable in five years, and the second was a five-year contract.

“Enough”

“There comes a moment when you need to say `enough’. You need to analyze rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers,” Laporta said. “And in the Spanish league we have to abide by the rules. We think they could be more flexible, but that’s not an excuse, we knew the regulation. We couldn’t abide by it because of the inheritance we had.”

Laporta said Barcelona’s losses doubled from about 200 million euros ($235 million US) to 400 million euros ($475 million). The club’s debt recently was at more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), and that wasn’t only because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no margin after a calamitous situation that was all down to the previous board of administration,” he said.

Former President Josep Bartomeu resigned last year along with his board of directors amid his fallout with Messi and the club’s financial struggles.

The Spanish league has prided itself in having some of the stricter economic controls for clubs in Europe, keeping them from overspending and going into heavy debt. With these controls it was able to create a much stable and stronger league in the last few years.

Barcelona’s salary cap, which is roughly proportional to 70% of a club’s revenue, was expected to be slashed even further this season. Laporta said for every 25 million the club spends on a player, it has to make up 100 million in cap space, which “is not an easy process.” He said the club was already at its limit without the Messi contract.

Laporta said new funding recently secured by the league worth 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion) would have helped but the club was against the deal because it would have hurt the team’s broadcasting rights revenues for the next 50 years.

“We are not going to increase our salary limit by selling our audiovisual rights for the next 50 years,” Laporta said. “This decision would have been risky.”

League President Javier Tebas contested Laporta’s argument and hinted that the new funding, which is also opposed by Real Madrid and still needs to be approved by the majority of the clubs, would be a solution to keep Messi at the club. He said Laporta had been initially in favour of the deal but suddenly changed his mind.

Messi leaves with 35 titles under his belt

Messi is leaving after leading Barcelona into its most glorious years. He helped the club win 35 titles, including the Champions League four times, the Spanish league 10 times, the Copa del Rey seven times and the Spanish Super Cup eight times.

“Still trying to assimilate everything already knowing how difficult it will be,” midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Instagram. “I can only thank you for what you have done for the club. You arrived as a kid and are leaving as the best player in history, having made this club grow to the height that it deserves.”

The 34-year-old Messi was yet to make any public statements, and there was not immediate news on his future. Paris Saint-Germain was considered the front-runner to sign him after Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola all but ruled out the possibility of adding Messi to his squad.

“Leo wanted to stay, so he is not happy,” Laporta said. “We all wanted him to stay. But for him right now it’s a situation in which he has to confront reality. It’s a reality that can’t be changed. I wish him the best wherever he goes.”

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'Low-risk' Vernon real estate investment turns into 8-year court battle | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source – iNFOnews

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FILE PHOTO.
(BEN BULMER / iNFOnews.ca)

It was sold as a low-risk, low-stress, self-financing real-estate investment, and involved 14 non-descript condos on a Vernon street more associated with crime than as a place to invest money.

But in the 11 years since a variety of investors bought the rental units, eight of those years have been tied up in bitter litigation fueled by antagonism and deeply entrenched positions.

Following an 18-day trial at the Vernon courthouse, Justice Elaine Adair said that fortunately, the one area of consensus between all the parties involved was that they wanted the units sold.

“Sale of the units would at least bring an end to the prolonged fighting over matters relating to the Strata Corporation and its governance, and reduce the scope of the war to one over money and the division of profits,” Justice Adair said.

Details of the case are laid out in a 101-page, 36,000-word B.C. Supreme Court decision.

According to the decision, the case dates back to 2008 when Rene Gauthier, Odin Zavier, and Thane Lanz formed SWS Marketing to start a business in real estate investment.

Zavier had purchased a marketing licence, which allowed him to take on clients and advise them on marketing plans. Lanz took one of Zavier’s classes and they became friends.

They met Gauthier and the three decided to go into real estate investment. They launched SWS Marketing and although the three were supposed to own the company equally, Gauthier held more than 50 per cent of the shares and controlled the firm.

SWS Marketing got involved in three residential real estate development projects in the Lower Mainland before finding the 14 units in Vernon in 2010.

The following year Zavier bought the 14 units, spread over two buildings for $1.6 million. It worked out at $116,000 per unit, which they thought was a good deal as the units had been appraised at $145,000 each.

The transaction was structured so that, before completion, the company entered into separate contracts of purchase and sale for the individual units with investors.

Zavier, Lanz, and Gauthier were all involved in approaching potential buyers for the units. The investors were spread across the country and they sold it as a “hands-off” deal.

“The Vernon Project was presented as one having positive cash flow, and not requiring much cash up front,” the decision reads.

Investors needed to provide $2,500 and obtain a mortgage. SWS Marketing would manage the rental building and provide the remaining roughly $30,000 for the down payment.

As part of the transaction, each of the new owners also had to sign a Joint Venture Agreement.

These agreements laid out the profit share of 50 per cent between an owner and SWS Marketing.

It’s these Joint Venture Agreements that became to focus of much of the litigation.

READ MORE: Kamloops mother, baby sent to Kelowna after closure of pediatric ward at Royal Inland Hospital

The agreements appeared to have gone smoothly until 2013 when things broke down.

A dispute between Gauthier and Zavier “boiled over” and Lanz sided with Zavier.

“The Fall of 2013 also marked the beginning of the duelling strata councils,” the decision reads. “The ‘Gauthier Council,’ and the ‘Zavier Council.’

Due to their dispute, both Gauthier and Zavier created their own strata councils. Condo owners then chose sides and paid their strata fees to the strata council they preferred. The opposition strata council then sent demand letters asking for payment.

Justice Adair said this created “more confusion.”

Around this time the litigation started.

SWS Marketing, which is controlled by Gauthier, sued Zavier and Lanz, along with eight other owners, the strata council, and nine John and Jane Does.

Gauthier argued that Zavier and Lanz along with the other owners had breached the Joint Venture Agreement on how the profits were divided.

The parties were regularly in and out of court.

“By 2017, some of the defendant-owners had had enough and wanted out of their investments,” the decision says.

Zavier then steered the owners towards a company owned by his wife called the Home Buying Centre.

The company promised to help people who have properties that are difficult to manage.

SWS Marketing then accused Zavier and Lanz of intentionally creating the “chaos” so the owners would give up their units to Zavier’s wife’s company.

Zavier denied that.

READ MORE: Compulsory mental health treatment a ‘double-edged sword’ for rights of offenders

The lengthy court documents go through the long history of disagreements between the parties as they argue about what certain contracts meant.

Both parties accuse the other of being “evasive, obstructive and dishonest” throughout the trial.

There are accusations of forged signatures and very different accounts of who paid for what.

Justice Adair agreed that Zavier and Lanz were both “argumentative and evasive” and she also felt there were concerns about the credibility and reliability of some of Gauthier’s evidence.

“Through their answers, both Mr. Zavier and Mr. Lanz demonstrated considerable antagonism toward Mr. Gauthier,” the Justice said.

The Justice said Lanz was “openly sarcastic and derisive.

“My strong impression was that Mr. Lanz has held a long-standing grudge against Mr. Gauthier, and saw the trial as an opportunity to settle scores,” the Justice said.

Ultimately, following a lengthy analysis of multiple claims and counterclaims, the Justice dismissed the action against Lanz but ruled that Zavier, along with each of the condo owners had breached the Joint Venture Agreement.

However, the court proceedings are not yet over.

The Justice ruled that neither side had put forward an argument about how the court should go about assessing the damages.

“In those circumstances, I have concluded that I cannot make a final order, and it would not be just to make such an order, without receiving further submissions,” Justice Adair said.

The Justice then ordered both sides to come back to court with submissions about how to move forward with damages.

READ MORE: ‘TERRIFIED’: The interrupted life and final days of Katherine McParland


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won’t censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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Dozens of MPP investment properties surge to more than $36 million as Ontario housing affordability worsens – CTV News Toronto

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Dozens of candidates running for re-election are sitting on investment properties that are surging millions in value as a housing crisis takes hold across Ontario, according to a review of disclosures by CTV News and a new home valuation tool.

And those eye-popping gains — to at least $36.5 million in investment properties alone according to Canadian app HouseSigma’s Home Valuation feature — is prompting tough questions from critics over whether those assets could be one reason leaders are not taking more action on the housing file.

“It’s no surprise to anyone living in Ontario that housing prices have literally gone through the roof,” said Bilal Akhtar of the pro-affordability group More Neighbours Toronto, who said large investments in the housing market could amount to a conflict of interest.

“Anyone who benefits from home price appreciation are not going to prioritize this. They are going to say, I can push this construction 10 years down the road,” he said.

MPPs in Ontario disclose that they own investment properties, but not exactly where. So CTV News Investigates had to dig into land title records and other sources to find more than 40 properties, owned by 25 MPPs in the most recent parliament.

Once we had identified the properties, HouseSigma’s machine learning and artificial intelligence came in with estimates about what the properties are worth today.

Of the properties we identified, 23 were owned by MPPs elected as PCs, 15 by NDP MPPs, and three by Liberals. The Green party confirmed that Mike Schreiner does not have an investment property.

For example, Willowdale PC Candidate Stan Cho has four investment properties. The two that we could value are worth an estimated $2.3 million today.

In Scarborough, NDP Candidate Dole Begum’s portfolio of four properties, which she shares with her extended family, rose $2.49 million since purchase to $4.41 million today.

Former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne declared two investment properties, which have more than doubled in value since purchase, to $1.5 million.

Former PC MPP Roman Baber — who was removed from caucus in 2021 over his opinion on COVID-19 lockdowns — appeared to have the largest portfolio, with three homes valued together at $5.21 million, a surge of about $2 million since he purchased them.

Many of these properties are over and above any properties they own as their residence, as a recreational property, or as a property they use to live in Toronto during legislative sessions.

Of the properties bought in the past 10 years, prices have jumped about 77 per cent — a windfall of about $4.7 million on paper.

That’s a figure that has some Ontarians wondering about the impact that amount of money has on our legislators making decisions.

“If you are someone who makes money off the housing market in a direct way, you have a very clear conflict of interest,” said Marguerita Kaliazina, speaking on Danforth Avenue in Toronto.

Reached at a press conference in Hamilton, PC Leader Doug Ford — running to keep his job as premier — said his government had acted to rein in prices.

“I don’t think we’re slow. To the contrary,” he said, pointing to housing starts figures he argued shows there was an increase in housing supply. “Our goal is to cut through the red tape and work collaboratively with municipalities because they’re the ones issuing the permits.”

Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force found that house prices have almost tripled in the past 10 years, growing much faster than incomes.

“Housing has become too expensive for rental units and it has become too expensive in rural communities and small towns. The system is not working as it should,” the authors wrote, making recommendations including building 1.5 million homes in 10 years to keep up.

Ford has embraced the 1.5 million homes figure, but has balked at other recommendations of the task force, including adding density in cities and ending exclusionary zoning, which Akhtar said had been left out of legislation introduced in March.

“What they all seem to be lacking is understanding the severity of this crisis and the urgency,” Akhtar said.

The Ontario Real Estate Association, which represents realtors in Ontario, called on all parties to make sure future generations have a chance to own a home, including measures to double the land transfer tax rebate for first time buyers, end exclusionary zoning, and getting dirty money out of Ontario real estate.

“You tended to think that if you played by the rules you could afford a home in the neighbourhood you grew up in,” said OREA CEO Tim Hudak in an interview. “That’s not the case any more.”

Ontario’s NDP have also embraced the goal of 1.5 million new homes, saying in their platform they would end exclusionary zoning and increase the supply of affordable housing in pedestrian and transit-friendly neighbourhoods.

The Ontario Liberals also point to the 1.5 million new homes in their platform, saying they will create an Ontario Home Building Corporation, and allow homes with up to three units and two stories to be built as-of-right across Ontario, including secondary and laneway suites.

While investment properties are one way of measuring wealth owned by MPPs, homes themselves store immense wealth: an an example, records show both Liberal and PC candidates running against Doly Begum in Scarborough Southwest appear to own homes worth in the neighbourhood of $2 million. 

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Al Gore's Investment Firm Unveils $1.7 Billion Sustainable Fund – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Generation Investment Management, the $36 billion investment firm co-founded by Al Gore, launched a new fund targeting companies that contribute to lower emissions, increased financial inclusion and more accessible healthcare. The $1.7 billion Sustainable Solutions Fund IV will allow Generation to invest in growing companies that “are shifting industries toward sustainability and responsible innovation at scale,” the fund manager said in a statement Wednesday. The new fund is Generation’s response to the “sustainability revolution,” which will have “the magnitude of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution,” Lila Preston, the firm’s head of growth equity, said in an interview. The asset manager has researched “all pockets of the economy” to identify where the disruption will play out and which companies will perform best, she said.Generation’s latest sustainability fund is opening in the middle of an energy crisis that’s driven fossil-fuel prices higher and left many environmental, social and governance funds underperforming their benchmarks. In the US, ESG funds are down about 15% this year, compared with a roughly 35% increase in the MSCI world index for oil, gas and consumable fuels.Co-founded in 2004 by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and and David Blood, a long-time Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, Generation has long shunned fossil fuels and warned that the finance industry is running out of time to shift capital away from greenhouse-gas emitters. Gore, whose 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” brought the issue of climate change to the awareness of the general public, has repeatedly warned of a “subprime carbon bubble’’ with investors caught on the wrong side of history facing significant losses.Preston said Generation’s new fund will target companies with revenues between $30 million and $300 million. All potential portfolio companies are assessed not only on the quality of their business and management, but also on their so-called system-positive contribution “to ensure they are clearly driving the transition to a more sustainable future,” Generation said.The new fund will target three key areas: planetary health, which focuses on a company’s ability to deliver net-zero carbon solutions in mobility, agriculture, energy and enterprise by cutting waste and emissions and supporting biodiversity;  “people health,” which targets companies that help deliver better, cheaper access to health care; and financial inclusion, which looks for companies that aid access to finance, help reduce inequality and support an equitable future of work.Generation said its analysis measures the “first and second-order effects of a business model on people and planet, including implications of its products, supply chain, organizational culture and broader role in society.”. In October, the firm announced that it’s teaming up with Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund and Harvard Management Co. to create a venture that will make investments pegged to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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