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Here are the top reads on deals and financial services over the last week,

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS

Web of deals: PACE credit union executives committed civil fraud with years of ‘secret’ payments, regulator alleges: It is a convoluted web of suspect dealings and payments that stretches back more than two decades. For years, Larry Smith, the man at the top of a sizable Ontario credit union, arranged loans and business deals, as was his job. But Mr. Smith and a number of his family members and associates – including one former provincial cabinet minister – also pocketed millions in “consulting fees” and other benefits in connection with those deals, according to an extraordinary set of allegations levied by a financial regulator. Story (James Bradshaw)

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Charles Schwab in talks to buy rival TD Ameritrade: Charles Schwab Corp. is in talks to acquire rival TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., a deal that would create a financial services behemoth with US$5-trillion in assets and set up Toronto-Dominion Bank for a possible exit from the U.S. discount brokerage business. Story (David Berman)

TD CEO Bharat Masrani knows when to hold, or fold, when the stakes are high: Do you ever watch poker tournaments on TV? Here’s what happens: The longer the game, the bigger the wagers get, and the more likely players are to go bust when betting on a hand. Toronto-Dominion Bank chief executive Bharat Masrani is one of those card sharks, caught in the late stages of a high stakes game in the U.S. discount brokerage industry. By all accounts, Mr. Masrani is about to do the sensible thing, and fold. It’s in keeping with an approach that colleagues say drives all the TD boss’s strategic decisions: Don’t do anything that could blow up the bank. Opinion (Andrew Willis)

Canada’s weak regulations make companies targets of short-sellers, report says: Canada’s equity markets have become a “haven” for aggressive short-sellers because of the hands-off approach taken by the market regulator, a newly released research paper charges. Story (Greg McArthur)

Ontario Securities Commission to allow smaller investment firms to outsource compliance role: The Ontario Securities Commission will permit small and medium-sized investment firms to outsource the role of chief compliance officer, one of a host of proposed rule changes designed to reduce obligations on the companies it regulates, the commission will announce Tuesday. Story (Greg McArthur)

David Rosenberg to leave Gluskin Sheff to set up his own consulting firm: David Rosenberg, the bearish economist whose morning newsletter is a must-read for many on Bay Street, is leaving money manager Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc. after more than a decade to launch his own consulting firm. Story (Ian McGugan)

Major Encana shareholder to vote against company’s move to U.S.: Encana’s move to the U.S. is “a lousy plan” that breaches the company’s fiduciary responsibility to Canadian shareholders, says one independent investment management firm that holds about four per cent of the oil company’s stock. Story (Emma Graney)

Aimia agrees to shakeup to end fight with investors: Aimia Inc.’s blue-chip board is putting a bitter feud with two groups of American investors to rest by agreeing to a settlement that will see six directors step down and counter lawsuits from both groups dismissed. Story (Tim Kiladze)

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New rules: Cannabis companies accept costly terms to raise money: Canadian cannabis companies that need money are being forced to agree to costly financing terms as their share prices collapse in an industry-wide rout. Story (Tim Kiladze)

DEALS NEWS: MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS, IPOs and FINANCINGS

Catalyst Capital seeking financing for bid to top HBC take-private deal: sources: Private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group Inc. is seeking financing for a bid for Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co. that would top a $1.9-billion deal the retailer reached last month to sell itself to a consortium led by the department store operator’s executive chairman, Richard Baker, according to people familiar with the matter. Story (Reuters)

Canopy shares fall as Constellation says it doesn’t intend to make further investments: Shares of Canopy Growth Corp. closed down almost 10 per cent Friday after global alcohol giant Constellation Brands Inc. said it did not plan to make any more cash contributions to the cannabis firm. Story (The Canadian Press)

Saudi Aramco IPO raises nearly $19.47-billion so far: Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering has attracted approximately 73-billion riyals ($19.47-billion) in institutional and retail orders so far, Saudi Arabia’s Samba Financial Group said on Thursday. Story (Reuters)

Alibaba raises up to $12.9-billion in landmark Hong Kong listing: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. raised up to US$12.9-billion in a landmark listing in Hong Kong, the largest share sale in the city in nine years and a world record for a cross-border secondary share sale. Story (Reuters)

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RBC backs $20-million Highline BETA fund that helps startups sell to large corporations: A Canadian venture development firm that specializes in helping large corporations fund and expand innovative tech startups has secured Royal Bank of Canada as the anchor investor of its $20-million fund. Story (Sean Silcoff)

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