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

What’s the gender pay gap at big Canadian companies? Here’s a glimpse (including into banks): Gender pay gaps at several major Canadian firms grew larger in 2018, according to disclosure data out of Britain. Median hourly earnings for women, as a percentage of men’s pay, declined at the British operations of such companies as SNC-Lavalin Inc. and Toronto-Dominion Bank. For most firms, the 2018 pay gaps were largely similar to the year before. Story and Graphic (Matt Lundy)

Canada’s first-mover advantage in the cannabis sector is rapidly disappearing: One short year ago, Canada could proudly claim to be a world leader in cannabis. The federal Liberal government’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana sparked a new industry and a string of public market debuts. The 10 largest cannabis companies in the world called this country home. Opinion (Andrew Willis, for subscribers)

SNC-Lavalin to sell stake in Ontario’s Highway 407: SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has clinched a deal to sell a minority stake in the Toronto area’s Highway 407 toll road for as much as $3.25-billion, a cash infusion that could relieve financial pressure on the engineering company as it deals with a cocktail of problems that threaten its future. Story (Nicolas Van Praet, for subscribers)

Bank CEOs stress importance of energy sector: Challenged by shareholders to more rapidly shift support from Canada’s oil and gas sector toward renewable resources, chief executives from Canada’s largest banks stressed how vital the energy industry remains to sustaining jobs and generating prosperity in the country. Story (James Bradshaw, Tim Kiladze and Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

Goodman fires back in escalating battle for control of Knight Therapeutics: Knight Therapeutics Inc. took aim at a dissident shareholder’s financial issues and “self-interested” motives on Thursday as the fight for control of the $1-billion Montreal-based drug company grows increasingly bitter. Story (Andrew Willis, for subscribers)

Aurora Cannabis hires BMO banker for executive role, extending governance shakeup: Aurora Cannabis Inc. is adding another new face to its leadership and governance ranks, extending a string of board and management changes since the start of the year. BMO Nesbitt Burns banker Carey Squires is joining the cannabis producer as an executive vice-president responsible for corporate development and strategy. Story (Tim Kiladze, for subscribers)

Goldcorp shareholders approve US$10-billion acquisition by Newmont: Goldcorp Inc. shareholders have voted decisively in favour of the company’s US$10-billion acquisition by Newmont Mining Corp., removing one more roadblock in what would be one of the biggest deals in the history of the gold sector. Story (Niall McGee, for subscribers)

First quarter sees $14-billion raised in bond markets: That’s nearly double the $7.9-billion of debt issued by corporations in the fourth quarter of last year, when trade uncertainty roiled markets and left many corporations sitting on the sidelines. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

Tricon jumps into U.S. apartment market with $1.4-billion deal: Residential real estate investment firm Tricon Capital Group Inc. is jumping into the U.S. apartment market with the US$1.4-billion purchase of 23 apartment rental properties, saying the portfolio will become a platform to launch further growth in the multi-family rental space. Story (Janet McFarland, for subscribers)

RBC CEO: The energy-hungry world isn’t waiting for Canada: History has placed Canada at a crossroads. No other country of 37 million people has access to more natural resources – and the brainpower to convert those resources into sustainable growth for a stronger society. And yet, Canada is at risk of taking the wrong turn at the crossroads because some believe there are only two paths: one for economic growth, and the other for environment. Opinion (Dave McKay)

Callidus’s net worth erased after quarterly loss: Callidus Capital Corp. shares skidded to a new low after the lending firm reported another deep quarterly loss and said its net worth had fallen below zero, blaming poor performance at companies it has acquired. Story (Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

Great-West Life amalgamating its Canadian subsidiaries to operate under the Canada Life brand: Great-West Lifeco Inc. plans to merge three of its well-known Canadian subsidiaries under one roof as it retires two brands that have been in the market for over 170 years. Story (Clare O’Hara, for subscribers)

Gerald Cotten mixed personal and corporate funds, Quadriga monitor’s report says: The deceased CEO of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange appears to have mixed personal and corporate funds, according to the court-appointed monitor overseeing the search for millions of dollars lost by QuadrigaCX. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

BMO chief says recession risk ‘remains relatively low’: The chief executive officer of Bank of Montreal says the risk of recession in the coming year “remains relatively low,” even as the Canadian and U.S. economies are expanding more slowly. Small-business customers from BMO’s commercial bank continue to send signals that the economic outlook “generally remains positive,” said CEO Darryl White, speaking at BMO’s annual meeting of shareholders in Toronto’s north end on Tuesday. Story (James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

Ontario Teachers’ earned benchmark $1.6-billion in 2018: Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan posted a return of 2.5 per cent for 2018, joining other larger Canadian plans that relied on returns from assets such as real estate, infrastructure and the shares of private companies as global equity markets struggled. Teachers’ said its total gains added $1.6-billion to a portfolio that closed the year at $191.1-billion, making the pension plan fully funded for a sixth straight year. Story (David Milstead, for subscribers)

With new credit card, Apple lets us glimpse the future of finance: The launch of the Apple Card last week was another step in the path of fintech that Apple started with the launch of its Wallet in 2012. The path has been slow and arduous. Like most things Apple, the grand vision and execution unfolded on the company’s own schedule and not on any predetermined timeline. Apple sometimes leads, sometimes follows, but often invents a whole new category. Opinion (Peter Misek, for subscribers)

Toronto venture capitalists await judge’s decision in lawsuit over Tinder stake: It’s a Bay Street court case that revolves around a single question: Did three men swipe a fortune from the partners of a Toronto venture-capital fund? In a six-week trial that wrapped up last week with closing arguments, the former business associates behind technology fund Extreme Venture Partners lobbed allegations of deception and misconduct at each other. The central issue in the case is the sale in 2012 of Xtreme Labs Inc., a software company that held an interest in the developer of Tinder, the massively successful app that popularized online swipe-right dating culture. Story (Christine Dobby, for subscribers)

IPO issuers having a ‘Goldilocks’ moment as more companies look at going public: A reduction in market volatility and a successful initial public offering by Montreal-based software firm Lightspeed POS Inc. could encourage more companies to go public this year. The technology sector could make up a considerable proportion of those IPOs, as a number of private-equity owners are expected to exit their positions, according to a report published on Monday by PwC Canada. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

Medison Biotech launching fight for control of Knight Therapeutics, following year-long activist campaign against CEO Jonathan Goodman: The largest shareholder in Knight Therapeutics Inc. plans to launch a proxy fight Monday for control of the $1-billion drug company, following a year-long activist campaign against Canadian pharmaceutical entrepreneur Jonathan Goodman. Story (Andrew Willis, for subscribers)

Toronto’s office vacancy drops to a new low, CBRE says: It’s getting harder to find office space in downtown Toronto. The city’s office vacancy rate dropped to a new all-time low as a result of strong demand from tech companies, office sharing operators and other businesses, according to commercial realtor CBRE. The rate for downtown Toronto hit 2.6 per cent in the first three months of this year, compared with 2.7 per cent in the previous quarter and 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. Story (Rachelle Younglai, for subscribers)

‘Price matters’: New online bank Motusbank hopes to attract cost-conscious customers: The flat yield curve everyone in finance is talking about these days is a gift to Canada’s newest online bank. Motusbank, brought to you by Ontario-based Meridian Credit Union, is a virtual bank that charges nothing for chequing accounts, pays a good rate on savings and has a unique offer on mortgages: All terms from one to five years have the same interest rate. Opinion (Rob Carrick, for subscribers)


TransCanada exploring potential sale of its Columbia Midstream unit, sources say: Pipeline operator TransCanada Corp is exploring a potential sale of its Columbia Midstream unit in a deal that could value the business at about $1-billion, three sources aware of the matter said on Friday. Story (for subscribers)

World Bank board approves U.S. Treasury’s David Malpass as next president: David Malpass, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the World Bank, won unanimous approval from the institution’s executive board on Friday, continuing the 73-year tradition of an American running the world’s largest development lender. Story

EU and Italy agree on draft deal to soften bank bail-in rules: source: The Italian government and the European Commission have reached a provisional agreement to reimburse some investors who bought shares in failed banks, an Italian official said, in an unprecedented move that would soften EU rules on bank rescues. Story

Swedbank chairman quits over money-laundering scandal: Swedbank chairman Lars Idermark has quit only a week after the lender’s chief executive was ousted over her handling of a money-laundering scandal, saying the controversy threatened to distract from his role as head of forestry group Sodra. Story

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