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

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS

GMP Capital’s sale to Stifel Financial marks the end of an era on Bay Street: On the last Monday in October, 1995, citizens of Quebec narrowly voted to remain Canadian. The morning after the referendum, investment dealer GMP Capital Inc. opened for business. Four partners worked on computers attached to wires hanging from the roof. That day had record trading volumes on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the firm vaulted into the top ranks of dealers. It was a dramatic start to a storied run. On Friday, the GMP era effectively came to an end. Story (Andrew Willis)

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Canada’s largest banks brace for tough year ahead as global pressures weigh on economy: Canadian banks ended the 2019 fiscal year on a sour note, as Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce reported lower profits amid deteriorating credit conditions and signs of economic stress. Story (James Bradshaw)

BlackRock ousted Mark Wiseman for affair with colleague who reported to him: Mark Wiseman’s ouster from investment giant BlackRock Inc. over his failure to disclose an affair with a colleague marks an abrupt exit for one of the most powerful Canadians on Wall Street. Story (Tim Kiladze, Clare O’Hara, Christine Dobby and Andrew Willis)

RBC CEO sees ‘challenging’ years ahead as profits slip at Canada’s largest bank: Royal Bank of Canada is starting to feel the sting of slowing economic growth and trade, as fourth-quarter profit slipped and its chief executive officer warned of “challenging” days ahead. Story (James Bradshaw)

BMO to trim work force as restructuring charge hits bank’s profits: Bank of Montreal’s drive to get leaner is taking a heavy toll on short-term profit, as the bank took the latest – and largest – in a series of restructuring charges that will speed up cost-cutting and lead to job losses. Story (James Bradshaw)

Wealthsimple looking to separate its wealth management business targeting advisers: Robo-adviser Wealthsimple is in discussions with several Canadian wealth managers as it looks to separate its Wealthsimple for Advisers business in order to focus on its online services for direct consumers. After a strategic review this fall, Wealthsimple CEO Michael Katchen told The Globe and Mail his two business lines – which include an online robo-adviser for investing – were gaining scale at a greater pace than originally anticipated and it “became apparent” the company needed to find a partner for its financial adviser business. Story (Clare O’Hara)

DEALS NEWS: MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS, IPOs and FINANCINGS

IPO could be the key that unlocks Telus International’s true value, analysts say: Telus Corp. could unlock significant value by taking its international unit public, analysts said Thursday after the Canadian telecom company announced it has struck a deal to acquire a German content moderator. Story (Alexandra Posadzki)

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OSC to hear Catalyst’s case against HBC bid as vote nears: Catalyst Capital Group Inc. will get the opportunity to press its case against a privatization of Hudson’s Bay Co. at the Ontario Securities Commission next Wednesday, less than a week before shareholders are scheduled to vote on the $1.1-billion plan. Story (Jeffrey Jones)

Baker bid for HBC as good as it gets, head of specal committee says: Over the course of two days in August, long-time Hudson’s Bay Co. director David Leith met with the retailer’s largest shareholders to hear their plans for turning around the struggling 350-year-old company. A few of them were radical. Story (Andrew Willis and David Milstead)

Catalyst proposal for HBC lacks credibility: Private equity fund Catalyst Capital is attempting to portray itself as both a potential buyer of Hudson’s Bay Co. and a champion of shareholder rights in the battle for control of the department-store chain. That’s pretty far from reality. Opinion (Andrew Willis)

New York hedge fund files lawsuit seeking to block Hudson’s Bay privatization bid: A small New York investment firm has filed a lawsuit against Hudson’s Bay Co. and its chairman, Richard Baker, over Mr. Baker’s attempt to take the retailer private – the latest bit of wrangling in a contest that’s only expected to heat up in the coming days. Story (David Milstead and Jeffrey Jones)

China’s Zijin Mining buying Canada’s Continental Gold: China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. is buying Canada’s Continental Gold Inc. for $1.4-billion, the latest big deal in what has been a banner year for mergers and acquisitions in the Canadian gold mining industry. Ziijin is offering $5.50 a share in cash for Continental, a 13-per-cent premium over Friday’s closing price. Story (Niall McGee)

Endeavour Mining reveals offer to acquire Centamin in $2.5-billion share swap: Endeavour Mining Corp. has unveiled a $2.5-billion all-share proposal to buy Centamin PLC, after being repeatedly rebuffed in private advances. Story (Niall McGee)

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Saudi exchange says Aramco shares will start trading Dec. 11: Saudi Aramco shares will start trading on Dec. 11, the Saudi securities exchange Tadawul said in a statement on Friday. Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant priced its initial public offering at 32 riyals ($8.53) per share on Thursday, raising $25.6 billion and beating Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s record $25 billion listing in 2014. Story (Reuters)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Against the grain: For Prairie farmers, carbon tax shows how little Ottawa understands their industry: Hour after hour, the massive grain dryer on Janina Currah’s family farm churns away, slowly heating bushel after bushel of damp canola. It’s an expensive necessity this year after heavy autumn rains left much of Saskatchewan’s vast wheat, barley and other grain crops too wet to send directly to market. Without the dryer, Mrs. Currah, 33, says her grain would have to be sold at a discount, and could simply rot. Even with a newly purchased energy-efficient machine, and a computerized monitoring system, she has spent thousands of dollars on drying so far. Story (Patrick Brethour)

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