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Suncor announces deal with activist investor to explore sale of Petro-Canada gas stations – Financial Post

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Three new directors to join board

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Suncor Energy Inc. has reached an agreement with activist investor Elliott Investment Management LP that will see three new independent directors appointed to the energy giant’s board, the company announced Monday.

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Two of the new directors will serve on a CEO search committee that has been tasked with finding a replacement for Mark Little, who announced he was resigning from the company on July 8 following the death of a worker at a Suncor worksite — the fifth workplace fatality for the company since 2020.

The board will also form a new committee to oversee a strategic review of Suncor’s downstream retail business, including the potential sale of its retail gas station network valued at between $5 billion and $8 billion, according to one National Bank of Canada estimate. Suncor’s retail group includes more than 1,500 gas stations and store locations operating under the Petro-Canada brand. The new committee is expected to report back to the board with its recommendation in the fourth quarter of this year.

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“These actions build on Suncor’s ongoing efforts to enhance safety, reliability and operational excellence and to restore Suncor’s industry leadership,” the company wrote in the news release.

Elliott issued a public letter in April calling for a shakeup of the board of directors at the Calgary-based oilsands company. The U.S. investor publicly called for a review of management and assets, pointing to Suncor’s poor safety record in recent years, including an estimated 13 workplace deaths since 2014.

Suncor had initially appeared reluctant to consider the sale of its retail arm. Asked about Elliott’s proposed asset review during a conference call with investors on May 10, the company’s CEO boasted about the profitability of its retail business and dismissed the notion of getting out of distribution: “We think it’s important that it stay together,” Little said.

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Suncor’s share price opened at $41 Monday on news of the agreement with Elliott, up more than four per cent from the previous close.

  1. Mark Little resigned as Suncor's chief executive last week.

    Suncor CEO’s abrupt resignation after worker fatality may signal broader executive shakeup

  2. A young man died at Suncor's Base Plant mine in northern Alberta on Thursday, further training the spotlight on Suncor's poor safety record at its sites.

    Another death at Suncor site increases pressure on company to fix poor safety record

  3. FortisBC says if the pilot project advances to the full commercial stage, it would produce up to 2,500 tonnes of hydrogen per year.

    FortisBC, Suncor to partner on Port Moody hydrogen pilot project

One analyst said he expects further changes to Suncor’s board and executive team as the company pursues a change in workplace culture to improve oilsands execution and safety — but National Bank of Canada analyst Travis Wood said he did not agree that a sale of downstream assets is the solution to Suncor’s problems.

“(A)lthough we agree with Elliott that change at the corporate level is required, we do not believe the lagging performance is related to unlocked downstream or retail value. Instead, the focus should be on operational excellence and continuous improvement across its oilsands assets, notably mining,” Wood wrote in a note to investors Monday.

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“(W)e don’t believe margin capture will be driven out of the already strong downstream business, which in our view is marginally supported by retail access. Instead, we only see Suncor’s once premium multiple reemerging after at least one year of superb oil sands execution, all else equal.”

The three independent directors appointed to Suncor’s board as part of the agreement with Elliott are former BHP Group Ltd. executive Ian Ashby, former Devon Canada Corp. president Chris Seasons and former Talisman Energy Inc. executive Jackie Sheppard.

There have been a number of serious workplace injuries and fatalities at Suncor worksites in recent years.

On July 7, a contractor was killed at Suncor’s base plant mine north of Fort McMurray — the second worker killed on the job this year. Little announced his resignation the following day.

With additional reporting from Bloomberg News

• Email: mpotkins@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Toronto continues investigation into cause of massive power outage – CP24

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Hydro One says it will take “several days” to repair hydro lines that were damaged after an upright crane in the lake slammed into them and caused a massive power outage downtown on Thursday.

The outage occurred in the city’s financial district at around 12:30 p.m., leaving approximately 10,000 customers without power at its peak.

A portion of the Eaton Centre was left in the dark, forcing hundreds of stores to temporarily close. The outage also knocked out power in parts of the Hospital for Sick Children’s campus.

Traffic lights were down in some intersections causing heavy traffic and significant streetcar delays. However, the outage did not affect subways.

Toronto Fire said crews responded to a number of elevator rescues, but no injuries connected to the outage were reported yesterday.

Hydro One says the outage was caused when a barge moving an upright crane in the Port Lands area hit overhead high voltage transmission lines.

“Now, what happened when that crane hit the line resulted in a downstream effect where a surge of power affected a nearby station on the Esplanade that we were actually using to reroute power to Toronto Hydro,” Hydro One Spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa told CP24 Friday morning.

The City of Toronto says the barge was being operated by a subcontractor to Southland-Astaldi Joint Venture (SAJV), which is a contractor for the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant outfall project.

Crews were reportedly preparing to move equipment into the lake for the project when the incident occurred.

“We’re going to use stone that needs to be placed out in the lake and the subcontractors were going to do that work for us but they were moving equipment. The event occurred off-site while they were doing their preparatory work,” Lou Di Gironimo, Toronto Water’s general manager told CP24 Friday.

Outage

Baccega Rosa said Hydro One crews were able to reroute about 50 per cent of the power shortly after the incident, which resulted in power being restored in some areas quicker than others.

Crews then had to stop their efforts and wait for the fire department to clear the site for workers to safely enter and reroute the rest of the power.

Outage

Once crews gained access, they were able to reroute all power to Toronto Hydro and power was fully restored downtown by 8 p.m.

Baccega Rosa said there are established safety protocols to stay a minimum of 10 metres away from power lines, which were not followed yesterday.

“And that’s (for) anyone whether, you know, you’re a barge passing under them (power lines) or if you’re doing work around your house and you need to trim the tree branches around the line connecting your home. You know, everyone was very lucky yesterday that there was not a safety incident and no one was hurt as a result of this,” she said.

The city has launched an investigation into the incident and has requested a full report from SAJV to understand what happened.

“So the big thing that we’re going to look at is what happened? Who was in charge of the subcontractor work? What were the safety procedures in place at the time? And then what exactly happened when the crane hit the wires?,” Di Gironimo said.

Di Gironimo could not confirm if the subcontractors will face any consequences for the incident.

“That will be part of the investigation to find out what happened. What were those precautions that were supposed to be in place. What was followed? What wasn’t?”

He said the city is meeting with SAJV next week and plans to complete the investigation within a matter of weeks.

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B.C. couple still owes $19M despite bankruptcy, appeal court rules – Business in Vancouver

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B.C. couple still owes $19M despite bankruptcy, appeal court rules – Economy, Law & Politics | Business in Vancouver


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​Rogers, Shaw formalize planned Freedom sale to Quebecor – BNN Bloomberg

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Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. announced Friday they reached a definitive agreement for the previously-announced proposed sale of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile wireless business.
 
The three companies said that the terms of the definitive pact are “substantially consistent” with their original announcement on June 17, when they said Montreal-based Quebecor agreed to pay $2.85 billion to purchase Freedom. Originally, July 15 was the target to reach the definitive agreement.  

“We are very pleased with this agreement, and we are determined to continue building on Freedom’s assets,” said Quebecor president and chief executive officer Pierre Karl Péladeau in a release Friday. “Quebecor has shown that it is the best player to create real competition and disrupt the market.”
 
The transaction is conditional on Rogers receiving final regulatory approvals for its planned $20-billion takeover of Shaw, which was announced in March 2021.
 
The road to regulatory approval has become more treacherous for Rogers after Competition Commissioner Matthew Boswell stated his objections to the plan, warning it would diminish competition in the telecom market, notwithstanding Rogers’ long-stated intent to divest Freedom Mobile.
 
Rogers’ legal counsel has argued vociferously against Boswell’s claims, saying in a June 3 filing with the Competition Tribunal that Boswell’s stance “is unreasonable, contrary to both the economic and fact evidence presented to the Bureau, and not supportable at law.”
 
The Competition Tribunal is currently scheduled to begin a hearing on the matter Nov. 7.
 
Rogers also has to clear another regulatory hurdle: its planned acquisition of Shaw requires approval from Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who has previously said he won’t allow the wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless assets to Rogers.
 
The process became more complicated for Rogers after a national network outage knocked out service to its customers in early July.

Champagne subsequently said the outage would “certainly be in [his] mind” when weighing the merit of the Shaw sale.
 
For its part, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Communications announced its conditional approval of the transaction in March.
 
Shaw investors have consistently demonstrated skepticism that the deal will go ahead as planned, as evidenced by its shares never once attaining the $40.50-per-share takeover offer from Rogers since the takeover was announced last year.

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