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

Venture financing: Sonder Canada Inc., a Montreal-based startup aiming to disrupt the travel accommodation business by renting out hotel-quality apartments through Airbnb and other websites, said Thursday it has raised US$85-million in a financing led by San Francisco venture capital firm Greenoaks Capital. Story (Sean Silcoff)

Bank earnings: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is finding ways to squeeze higher profit from its domestic banking business, calming concerns about sluggish mortgage growth as housing activity slows. Story (James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

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Real estate and mortgage industry: The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear an appeal from the Toronto Real Estate Board over a federal Competition Tribunal order on the restriction of home-sale data, effectively ending TREB’s years of legal wrangling with the Competition Bureau. Story (Shane Dingman)

Earnings: Royal Bank of Canada shrugged off concerns about trends in consumer credit and the global economy to report higher third-quarter profit and revenue, even as it set aside more cash to prepare for a rainy day. Each of the bank’s core divisions – retail banking, wealth management and capital markets – pitched in to propel profit 11 per cent higher than a year ago, despite less stellar results from investor and treasury services, and the bank’s insurance arm. Story (James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

Pensions: Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is shifting its massive portfolio into global markets and inflation-sensitive investments, based on concerns that asset classes such as equities and infrastructure are overvalued. Teachers outlined the shift in strategy, now two years in the making, on Wednesday as it announced financial results for the first half of the year, when the fund posted a net return of 3.2 per cent. Net assets reached $193.9-billion, a $4.4-billion increase from the end of last year. Story (Andrew Willis, for subscribers)

Loyalty programs: Fifteen months after announcing it would end its relationship with Aeroplan, the loyalty program created inside Air Canada in 1984 and spun out as a separate company in 2005, Air Canada sweetened an earlier cash offer to buy the Aeroplan business to $450-million-- and the assumption of $1.9-billion in Aimia liabilities. Story (Greg Keenan, for subscribers)

Should the deal go through, Aimia will offload the driving force of its largest division. The Coalitions segment of the business, of which Aeroplan is the biggest part, accounted for $712.6-million, or 91 per cent of Aimia’s revenues, in the first half of this year. Reporter Susan Krashinsky Robertson writes on what can be expected for the future of Aimia after the Aeroplan sale. Story (for subscribers)

OMERS: One of Canada’s largest pension funds is paying US$1.4-billion for a 50-per-cent interest in a pipeline that moves oil from the Permian region of Texas, in its third big U.S. energy acquisition this year. Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), a defined benefit plan for 500,000 members from school boards, emergency services and local agencies, is buying the stake in the BridgeTex pipeline from Plains All-American Pipeline LP and Magellan Midstream Partners LP, both of which will remain as partners. Story (Jeffrey Jones)

Home Capital: A shareholder is putting pressure on recovering mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. to buy back $60-million in shares and speed up plans to streamline the company’s capital structure. In an open letter, the chief investment officer for Shanghai-based Kingsferry Capital Management Group Ltd., Hugo Chan, argues the lender is overcapitalized and suffering from low liquidity as trading activity in its stock has declined. Story (Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

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Banks: If Fifth Third Bancorp’s announced US$4.7-billion deal to buy Chicago’s MB Financial is faltering, one analyst is wondering aloud whether there’s an opening for a rival bank to make a hostile bid. If so, could Bank of Montreal or Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce be among the suitors? Story (James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

Investment banking: BMO Nesbitt Burns, the Bank of Montreal’s investment banking arm, has hired three new managing directors in New York – all of whom specialize in the power, utilities and infrastructure sector and come from the U.S. office of its domestic rival, RBC Dominion Securities. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

OMERS and DuckDuckGo: One of Canada’s largest pension funds is financing DuckDuckGo Inc., a rapidly growing search engine that positions itself as the “anti-Google” because it doesn’t track or store its users’ search results. The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System is leading a US$10-million investment in the profitable U.S. firm. Story (Sean Silcoff, for subscribers)

Capital call: Newton Glassman’s Catalyst Capital Group Inc. is asking its investors for money as the private-equity firm’s efforts to sell many of its corporate holdings drag on. Catalyst issued a capital call this month to backers of a $1-billion fund, asking investors to send money equal to 5 per cent of their original commitment. Story (Andrew Willis and Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

MORE FINANCIAL SERVICES AND DEALS NEWS FROM FRIDAY

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