Connect with us

Investment

Montreal attracts record corporate investment as city aims to shake off COVID-19 impact, reclaim economic momentum – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


Stéphane Paquet, CEO of Montreal International, in the World Trade Center Montreal on July 13, 2021.

Andrej Ivanov/The Globe and Mail

International and Canadian companies are making record investments in the Montreal area as the region tries to shake off the COVID-19 pandemic and reclaim the economic momentum that came to a sudden stop last year.

Foreign investment in Canada’s second-largest city punched to a new high of $1.86-billion through the first six months this year as companies launched 40 new projects and created 6,300 jobs, according to figures from Montréal International, the city’s investment promotion agency. The organization, a public-private partnership partly funded by the Quebec and Canadian governments, counts only investments it facilitated, meaning the absolute numbers could be much higher.

“People tend to forget, but Montreal was on a roll before COVID-19 hit,” Stéphane Paquet, Montréal International’s president and chief executive officer, said in an interview Tuesday. “And what we see [now] is the fundamentals are still pretty good.”

The results vindicate Quebec’s decision in recent years to pursue investments by U.S. technology companies in particular, a wave that started when Microsoft Corp. bought deep-learning and artificial intelligence startup Maluuba in 2017. Information technology, cybersecurity and media firms have been among the big winners of the pandemic, experiencing rising sales and valuations as the time people spent online exploded across the world.

Among the tech companies targeting Montreal is U.S.-based AppDirect, which picked the city in March for its Canadian headquarters as it carries out a new cloud solutions project to develop advanced invoicing and billing applications. More than half the company’s global work force will be located in Montreal. The Quebec government is supporting the venture with a refundable loan of up to US$40-million.

Video-game producers, long drawn to Montreal because of Quebec’s generous payroll tax credits, have also been ramping up their commitments to the city. Room8 Group, Clipwire Games, Quantic Dream, Amazon, Focus Home Interactive and Phoenix Labs are all among the companies that have announced expansions in Montreal in recent months.

Amazon Games, a division of the online retailing giant, cited Montreal’s creative talent pool as a reason why it decided to open a new game development studio in the city. It is recruiting for several positions, including software developers and game artists.

Several investments have been counted in Montréal International’s statistics but not yet announced, said Alexandre Lagarde, the agency’s vice-president of foreign direct investment. The companies themselves control the timing of the disclosure and some of them choose never to make their moves known, he said.

Among the major projects that have been made public, France’s L’Oréal, one of the world’s biggest cosmetics companies, said last month it would expand its distribution centre in the Saint-Laurent borough to add 20,000 pallets of storage capacity on a 95,000-square-foot area. Meanwhile, U.S.-based SAP Inc., a business software solutions provider that has long been in Montreal, said it would spend millions on a new flexible, demand-driven space in the city’s Place Ville Marie “to accommodate the future of work in a postpandemic world.”

Those two investments in particular underscore a strategy Montréal International has employed since the pandemic began, which is to intensify focus on markets that have yielded past success, such as France, while carving out opportunities from pockets of growth in hard-hit industries such as aerospace. For example, the agency helped secure a new investment from MSB Group, a supplier of aircraft interior components for private jets.

“We were able to shift our attention to where it counts,” Mr. Lagarde said.

Montreal island and its surrounding region, home to about half of Quebec’s 8.5 million people, became Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre during the pandemic’s early months as the first wave ripped through nursing homes and killed thousands. After some of strongest lockdown measures in North America, the city centre is slowly coming back to life, but the extent to which office workers will return after a 16-month absence remains to be seen. Their presence is make or break for hundreds of restaurants and service businesses.

Jobs wise, the region is holding its own. Montreal now has more people employed than it did before the pandemic started. The city’s job level in June stood at 101.2 per cent of its February, 2020, level, while Vancouver’s stood at 100.3 per cent and Toronto’s 97 per cent, according to Montreal International.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

Newcomer SageBlan backs up its belief in Montreal tourism with heavy investment – Montreal Gazette

Published

 on


The upstart hotel investment firm is betting an expected rebound in tourism in Quebec will generate big returns over the next decade.

Article content

An upstart investment firm is plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into Quebec hotels in the belief that a tourism rebound can generate big returns.

Advertisement

Article content

SageBlan Investments has spent about $160 million to buy and revamp four Quebec properties in the past 18 months, including the Vogue Montreal downtown and the former Hôtel Place Dupuis near the Berri-UQAM métro station. Although another $40 million worth of renovations are ongoing, SageBlan is already thinking about its next acquisitions, managing partner and president Gaurav Gupta said.

Article content

“We think the future is bright here,” Gupta, 30, told the Montreal Gazette in an interview.

Whether such optimism is warranted will depend on tourism’s ability to overcome COVID-19‘s economic toll. Local assets may need up to two years to return to pre-pandemic profit levels, the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal said last week.

Advertisement

Article content

Originally from the Toronto area, Gupta teamed up with adopted Torontonians Anil and Bleda Basegmez — Turkish-born, Swiss-raised cousins with a family background in real estate — to create SageBlan in early 2019. All three investors subsequently moved to Montreal and are now taking French lessons, according to Gupta.

Article content

“Montreal is one of the best cities that we’ve ever lived in,” he said. “French is a beautiful language and I want to learn it. Within the next 12 months I’ll have a better handle.”

SageBlan made its first acquisition in mid-2019 with the purchase of Hotel Plaza Valleyfield and closed its latest transactions — the Vogue Montreal and Quebec’s City’s Delta — a year ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing.

Advertisement

Article content

“The deals were struck pre-COVID, they were renegotiated during COVID, and closing them at the height of the pandemic was no easy task,” Gupta said. “We are long-term investors and we believe in the resilience of the Quebec marketplace. We would make these investments again today.”

SageBlan’s hotels “are all repositioning plays,” Gupta said. “The properties are being renovated, rebranded or being made more efficient.”

Article content

The acquisition spree means SageBlan now oversees about 1,000 rooms. It has about 500 hotel employees, in addition to about 20 executives.

Before starting SageBlan, Gupta spent several years working for his family’s Sunray Group, a hotel company that owns more than 50 properties and is run by his uncle.

Advertisement

Article content

“In my previous job, I was spending two weeks a month here and I fell in love with Montreal on a couple of fronts,” he said. “On a personal front, I discovered a vibrant city with culture, dining, architecture and this European feeling that you couldn’t capture anywhere else in Canada. On the business front, I felt there was a huge runway for growth, and that Montreal was on the cusp of a real estate boom. It’s a world-class city. That’s the reason we’re focused on Montreal in terms of investment opportunities.”

SageBlan’s most advanced project is the 30-storey, 354-room Hôtel Place Dupuis, which is being converted into a Hyatt Place for about $25 million. Work is due to be completed in September, Gupta said.

“It’s a complete gut renovation,” he said. “We’re trying to bring life back to that hotel, which is located in an under-served area that’s now receiving a lot of investment. We want to make a difference and become almost an anchor for other businesses. The area is gentrifying and will be completely changing over time” with the renovation of Place Émilie-Gamelin and the coming Radio-Canada tower and Molson brewery real-estate projects, he said.

Advertisement

Article content

SageBlan is also busy redeveloping the 148-room Vogue Montreal on de la Montagne St. Once work is done, probably in March, the asset will become the first hotel in Canada to operate under Hilton’s Curio Collection banner. It will include a new ground-floor café.

“This is a true five-star asset,” Gupta said.

As a young company run by thirtysomething executives, SageBlan is eager to adopt cutting-edge technologies for all its hotels. Key features will include mobile check-ins as well as “army-grade” air and water purification systems, Gupta said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy so that we can be at the forefront of guest expectations,” he said.

Much time is also being spent canvassing acquisitions.

“As you get settled in a market, it’s good to have your ear to the ground,” Gupta said. “We have a couple of strategic assets that we’re looking at within Quebec and downtown Montreal that would be a good fit for the portfolio. Stay tuned.”

ftomesco@postmedia.com


  1. Montreal hotel association expects ‘slow climb back’ after border reopens

  2. A circular glass and steel staircase brings residents to the second-storey of the $11-million condo.

    $11M Rockstar: Ritz-Carlton penthouse just broke a Montreal record for condo sales

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

Cancer-fighting startup Turnstone Biologics raises US$80M series-D investment – Ottawa Business Journal

Published

 on


One of Ottawa’s most highly-touted biotech startups has secured the city’s largest venture capital deal in nearly three years.

Turnstone Biologics was cofounded by three Ontario physicians including Dr. John Bell of the Ottawa Hospital and is developing cancer-fighting viruses. On Wednesday, the firm said it had completed a US$80-million series-D funding round led by PFM Health Sciences and Point72.

“This oversubscribed financing will allow us to advance our vision to benefit millions of cancer patients underserved by current treatment options,” said Turnstone president and CEO Sammy Farah in a statement.

Turnstone, which also maintains offices in New York, where Farah is based, and San Diego, has already raised more than $50 million as it develops groundbreaking treatments that use the body’s own immune system to battle cancer. The firm is widely regarded as a leader in the emerging field of immunotherapy, in which viruses that attack malignant tumours are administered to patients, and has made multiple appearances on lists ranking Canada’s highest-potential private firms.

Turnstone says it will use the proceeds from the financing to advance its pipeline of therapeutic programs. Its lead oncolytic virus candidate is currently in clinical trials while a second therapy candidate is expected to enter clinical development in early 2022.

Venture capital is an important source of capital for biotech firms, which generally must put products through years of rigorous testing before they are approved for sale to the public.

“Developing new therapies is extremely costly, so we also need to engage the private sector to take our research to the next level,” Dr. Bell explained in an earlier statement.

The US$80 million deal is the largest funding round for an Ottawa company since Assent Compliance’s $160 million series-C round in October 2018. It also comes at a time when the amount of money flowing to Ottawa-based companies is on a downward slide.

In addition to PFM Health Sciences and Point72, disclosed investors in Turnstone Biologics’ latest funding round included Eventide Asset Management, Surveyor Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, Takeda Ventures, CaaS Capital, JM Family Enterprises, Northleaf Capital Partners, 404 Bio, Versant Ventures, OrbiMed, F-Prime Capital, Sectoral Asset Management, Sixty Degree Capital, Brace Pharma Capital and Teralys Capital.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

Asia Investment Strategy H2 2021 – Global growth stabilisation and deceleration – Lombard Odier

Published

 on


Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers. We work with third parties and make use of third party cookies to make advertising messaging more relevant to you both on and off this website.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending