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Here are the top reads on deals and financial services over the last week. Have a great weekend,

Mawer Investment Management to stay independent, rules out sale: Calgary’s Mawer Investment Management Ltd., which oversees $50-billion of client money, has decided not to sell itself. Instead, it will forge ahead as an independent firm. For more than 40 years, Mawer has operated as an independent that is free from bank ownership. In November, however, the company revealed that it had hired bankers to consider a sale amid a frothy market for asset managers. Story (Tim Kiladze, for subscribers)

A low-cost global investing giant is about to launch a robo-adviser in Canada: Global investment giant Vanguard Group is set to launch a Canadian robo-adviser service within the next 18 months in a move that will bring a formidable new competitor to the increasingly crowded field of digital portfolio management. Vanguard Investments Canada Inc., the third largest provider of exchange-traded funds in the country by assets, will introduce a digital online advice platform for retail investors, according to three sources with knowledge of the plans. Story (Clare O’Hara)

Marlboro maker Altria takes 45-per-cent stake in Canadian cannabis grower Cronos for $2.4-billion: Big Tobacco, meet cannabis. Altria Group Inc., the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said in a news release Friday that it has struck a deal to buy a large stake in Cronos Group Inc., the Toronto cannabis grower. Story (Christina Pellegrini, for subscribers)

Washington state rejects Hydro One deal for Avista, citing interference from Ontario government: Washington State regulators have rejected Hydro One Ltd.’s $4.4-billion acquisition of Avista Corp., citing the possibility of political interference from the Ontario government as the primary reason. While the utilities have the right to appeal, Washington State’s decision imperils a deal envisioned by Hydro One as a step toward creating a leading North American power company. Story (David Milstead, for subscribers)

Ontario defends Hydro One interference: Ontario’s Conservative government defended its decision to replace the board and top executive of Hydro One Ltd., after the State of Washington cited political interference as it turned down a $4.4-billion acquisition by the company. Story (Tim Kiladze, Laura Stone and David Milstead, for subscribers)

Doug Ford gets rid of the $6-million man — and costs Hydro One $185-million: Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to get rid of the $6-million man running utility Hydro One Ltd. during his successful election campaign last spring. Keeping that promise appears to have cost Hydro One at least $185-million, killed plans to create a market-leading company and sullied the province’s reputation as a place to do business. Opinion (Andrew Willis, for subscribers)

Two years after receiving valuation of $18 to $22, Callidus investors get bid for $2 a share: An investment company controlled by a British-born billionaire has offered to buy the public float of Callidus Capital Corp. in a deal that values the alternative lender at about $114-million, a fraction of a target that Callidus’s chairman had set for a sale. Braslyn Ltd., owned by Tavistock Group head Joe Lewis, has proposed to take over Callidus’s publicly traded minority shares for $2 a share in cash. Story (Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

Teachers to consolidate public- and private-capital investing teams: Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is shaking up its equities division. The fund, which manages nearly $200-billion across all types of assets, has confirmed to The Globe and Mail that it is consolidating its public- and private-capital investing teams under one expanded equities department. Story (Rachelle Younglai and David Milstead, for subscribers)

Coinsquare exchange acquires BlockEQ cryptocurrency wallet for $12-million: Toronto-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare is acquiring virtual currency wallet BlockEQ for $12-million. The deal will allow Coinsquare users to access Stellar, a blockchain-based payment network that allows users to swap fiat currencies for virtual ones and send money across borders. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

Facebook gave RBC, other companies preferential access to users' data, documents show: British lawmakers have released hundreds of internal Facebook emails including several showing how the social media giant entered into contracts with a host of large companies including the Royal Bank of Canada that gave them special access to users' friends list. Story (Paul Waldie and Tim Kiladze, for subscribers)

Richardson GMP adviser John Reyes suspended, fined $110,000 for inappropriate investments: Regulators have suspended a Calgary investment adviser and fined him $110,000 in the latest fallout from a case involving inappropriate investments and major losses among clients at Richardson GMP Ltd. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) imposed the penalties in a settlement with John Reyes, an adviser at Richardson GMP’s Eau Claire office in Calgary, over code-of-conduct breaches. Story (Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

National Bank bets on hot Quebec economy to boost profit: National Bank of Canada is touting its heavy exposure to Quebec amid a shifting national economic outlook, arguing that recent strength in its home province will be a boon to its bottom line in the near future. “As a superregional bank with leading market share in Quebec, we are well positioned to benefit from the strength of the Quebec economy,” chief executive Louis Vachon said on a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the bank’s fourth-quarter results. Story (Tim Kiladze, for subscribers)

Glass Lewis backs three Paulson nominees in Detour Gold proxy battle: Independent proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. is backing three Paulson & Co. Inc. candidates for the board of Detour Gold Corp. but stopped short of recommending all of the dissident shareholder’s nominees. New York-based Paulson, which owns roughly 5.7 per cent of Detour’s shares, has been agitating for a broad overhaul at the struggling junior gold company since the summer and has proposed replacing eight out of nine directors, including interim chief executive Michael Kenyon and chairman Alex Morrison. Story (Niall McGee, for subscribers)

BMO’s recent U.S. success clouded by more competitive landscape: Bank of Montreal’s personal and commercial banking profits surged in the United States over the past fiscal year, but the uncertainty of a repeat performance is clouding the lender’s outlook. Similar to rivals Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, BMO operates a sizable bank in the United States that focuses on traditional lending. After years of underwhelming earnings, the Chicago-based unit saw profits jump 35 per cent, to $1.4-billion, in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31. Story (Tim Kiladze, for subscribers)

Global ranking puts Toronto’s financial sector third in employment growth: Toronto’s financial-services sector has snagged third place in terms of its employment growth in recent years in a global ranking of financial centres. The Conference Board of Canada released a report Tuesday that found the industry added 55,194 jobs in the city from 2012 to 2017 – a 25.2-per-cent increase over that period. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

Teck sells stake in Chilean copper project to Japan’s Sumitomo for US$1.2-billion: Teck Resources Ltd. is selling a stake in a large Chilean copper project for US$1.2-billion to a Japanese mining company in a deal that will see Canada’s biggest diversified miner proceed with a major expansion of its copper business. On Tuesday, Vancouver-based Teck said its board had approved the US$4.7-billion construction of Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) after selling a 30-per-cent share in the project to Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corporation. Story (Niall McGee, for subscribers)

Toronto’s SnapTravel closes $21-million financing, with Stephen Curry among those who invested: Toronto-based SnapTravel, which uses artificial intelligence to customize online hotel-booking, announced US$13.2-million in new financing Tuesday – including from two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry. SnapTravel, formally registered as Wise Travel Technologies Inc., helps consumers book hotels over services such as text messaging, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and claims to offer savings of between 30 per cent and 50 per cent for each booking. Story (Josh O’Kane, for subscribers)

Shareholder proxy firm sides with Detour Gold on proposed board slate: A proxy advisory firm is telling shareholders to stick with Detour Gold Corp.'s proposed slate of directors – a setback for Paulson & Co.'s efforts to overhaul the gold miner’s board. In a report published late Friday, independent firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) advised investors to go with Detour’s board recommendations, despite Paulson’s agitating for wholesale change at Toronto-based Detour. Story (Niall McGee, for subscribers)

Failed B.C. money-laundering case shows ‘snow-washing’ is thriving in Canada: When RCMP raided the offices of Silver International Investments Inc. in Richmond, B.C., they found a $2-million stash of $20 bills, along with records pointing to a much bigger operation. Law-enforcement officials would eventually conclude that the company was part of an alleged scheme to launder hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dirty money from China through various casinos in the province, including the nearby River Rock Casino. Opinion (Barrie McKenna, for subscribers)

Statistics Canada suspends credit searches, delays plan to obtain banking records: Statistics Canada is suspending its practice of obtaining personal credit records from TransUnion and has written to Canada’s banks to delay its plan to obtain the banking details of 500,000 Canadian households. Story (Bill Curry)


Appointment: Danske Bank elected the favoured candidate of its top shareholder as its new chairman on Friday to help steer the Danish lender through a multi-billion euro money laundering scandal. Story

Sports goods: A consortium led by China’s Anta Sports made an offer to acquire Finland’s Amer Sports in a deal that values the company at 4.6 billion euros (US$5.23 billion), the Chinese firm said on Friday. Story (for subscribers)

IT sector: HCL Technologies will buy some software assets from U.S.-based IBM Corp. for US$1.8 billion, the companies said on Friday, marking the largest purchase ever by an Indian IT services firm. Story

IPOs: For years, Uber and Lyft put off going public. Now, they are speeding up. Faced with a volatile stock market and the prospect of an economic downturn next year, the ride-hailing services have moved more urgently toward an initial public offering, said four people with knowledge of the companies’ plans, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Story

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